Restart a Heart day is on the 16th of October this year. This initiative is to raise awareness of cardiac arrest and CPR as well as understanding when to use a defibrillator. Knowing these life skills can save someone you know.
The purpose of a defibrillator
It’s important to understand why defibrillators are used, how they work and if defibrillators do restart a heart. Also knowing the difference between a sudden cardiac arrest and a heart attack is key to knowing when to use a defibrillator. A sudden cardiac arrest is when the heart suddenly stops beating due to it malfunctioning, whereas a heart attack is when blood flow to the heart is blocked. When a person is experiencing a heart attack, they are usually conscious and breathing with the heart still pumping, however often a heart attack can lead to cardiac arrest. This is when a defibrillator would be used to restart a heart.
When someone suffers from a sudden cardiac arrest, a defibrillator is used to detect any unnatural heart rhythms such as chaotic patterns rather than a constant beating, this is called being in a state of Ventricular Fibrillation (First Aid, 2023). A defibrillator is then used to send a shock to return the heart to its normal rhythm.
A sudden cardiac arrest does not discriminate and can happen to anyone at any time, knowing how to use a defibrillator can save a friend or family member or even a passing stranger. If you’re looking to get some training on how to use a defibrillator, you can find it here.
How do defibrillators restart a heart?
One of the most common misconceptions is that defibrillators restart a heart once it has stopped. The design of an AED is not to restart a heart once it has completely stopped. The purpose of it, as explained above, is to detect an irregular heart rhythm and shock them back to a normal heart rhythm, not to shock a heart back to life once it has completely stopped.
It’s very important to know the purpose of a defibrillator in order to use it correctly and at the right time. Having that knowledge can be the difference to saving a life. Here at Defib we can provide you with this training as well as the correct defibrillator to fit your needs.
How should a defibrillator be used?
There are many questions around how to use a defibrillator, whether clothes can be worn during the use, if it’s okay for the person to be wet whilst a defibrillator is used, will it restart a heart. At Defib we’re here to debunk any of the myths you might have heard. Here are some simple steps that can be followed when using a defibrillator:
- Ensure the person’s chest is clear from any clothing or fabric. If the person was submerged in water prior to the sudden cardiac arrest, ensure they are completely dry before starting.
- Once the person is prepped and the defibrillator has been turned on, peel off the pads and attach them to the patient’s skin, one on each side of the chest.
- Stop CPR and let the defibrillator check the person’s heart rhythm. The defibrillator will decide if a shock is needed and a fully automatic defibrillator will shock the person itself, whilst a semi-automatic will advise you to push the button to initiate the shock
- CPR may need to be continued until the patient shows signs of life, the defibrillator will tell you if this is needed.
In order to be comfortable with using a defibrillator we recommend undertaking training to be prepared in any eventuality. Why not do the training with a group or organise it for your work and give the whole team some peace of mind.
Should you purchase a defibrillator?
Being prepared is one of the greatest skills, unfortunately throughout life’s events we won’t always be able to have control over a situation. However knowing how to use a defibrillator is one skill we can attain to help anyone who does have a sudden cardiac arrest.
Investing in a defibrillator will not be enough if the knowledge of how and when to use one is not known. Therefore, investing in both training and the correct defibrillator will help combat the unpredictability of sudden cardiac arrest. Defib offers training that can be provided at a location convenient to you and no prior experience is needed. If you’d like more information about the training, you can find it here. All our defibrillators we offer adhere to the British safety standards and regulations, a full list of the current defibrillators can be found here, we can talk you through which one would be best suited for your needs. Why wait, start saving lives today!