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An automated external defibrillator or AED is a portable medical devices that automatically analyzes and detects cardiac arrhythmias of Sudden Cardiac Arrest patients through elec- trodes attached to the patient’s chest. AEDs are able to produce a shock which stops the heart and allows it to return to a normal rhythm, a process called defibrillation.
An AED may be either fully automatic or semi-automatic. Semi-automatic models requirethe rescuer to push a button on the device when instructed. Automatic models administer a shock on their own. Both models are easy to use, but automatic models may be less stressful for lay rescuers to use.
AEDs are lifesaving devices. On average, sudden cardiac arrest patients experience brain damage 5 minutes after losing consciousness. Unfortunately, the average EMS response time is 11 minutes meaning that death or serious brain damage is almost certain if an AED is not present.
A 2010 study published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology studied the outcomes of 13,769 patients who experienced out-of-hospital cardiac arrest. 32% of these patients received CPR before EMS arrived while only 2.1% were treated with an AED before arrival of EMS. As the bar graph below shows, use of an AED resulted in a survival rate of over 500% that of the average cardiac arrest patient.