AEDs, while easy to use, require ongoing management and maintenance. The majority of malfunctions in AEDs are due to improper maintenance or battery failure. In addition to training volunteers, a well-designed AED Program includes testing and maintaining your device(s) – a critical and overlooked factor in deploying AEDs in organizations. Whether you have 1 AED, or are a large organization with multiple AEDs deployed, you should have a Medical Oversight and Management program in place. Taking this step ensures that your AED(s) are always maintained, in compliance, registered with local EMS, and are ready for use should they be called upon.
As the majority age of the population is on the rise, so are health related illnesses and major health events. According to the American Heart Association (AHA), the average annual rates of first cardiovascular events rise from 3 per 1000 men at 35 to 44 years of age to 74 per 1000 men at 85 to 94 years of age. For women, comparable rates occur 10 years later in life, but the gap narrows with advancing age. About 66% of cardiovascular disease deaths occur in people age 75 and older.
An Automated External Defibrillator (AED) is a portable, electronic medical device that was designed to allow less trained individuals to provide lifesaving defibrillation to victims experiencing sudden cardiac arrest. Sudden Cardiac Arrest (SCA) is a medical condition in which the heartbeat stops abruptly and unexpectedly. If not treated within minutes, SCA is fatal.
Occasionally we have customers that question whether they actually need to replace the electrode pads upon reaching expiration or if the pads will still work for another year or so. Last week, we received an AED unit from a customer with a dead battery and electrodes that were expired and tore apart upon opening the package. If a unit will not turn on due to battery failure, it’s obvious that the unit will not function in an emergency—but what about the electrodes?
Although these two terms are often used interchangeably, they are NOT the same. Sudden cardiac arrest is much worse than a heart attack. It is a condition in which the victim’s heartbeat stops abruptly and unexpectedly due to an abnormal heart rate or arrhythmia. A sudden cardiac arrest victim will have little or no fore-warning, will lose consciousness and collapse.
Defibrillators can both monitor and regulate heartbeats. The heart uses electrical impulses to contract the muscles surrounding the organ to pump oxygenated blood to other tissues. The heart does this by polarizing its pacemaker. The depolarization is what makes the heart contract and produces the PQRST (Figure 1) wave form that can be read on an electrocardiogram (ECG) machine. The ECG actually measures the electrical impulse and not the physical contraction of the heart.