Will an AED Save Everyone?

sometimes an aed will not save the victim

Unfortunately, no. AEDs can’t save everyone who suffers sudden cardiac arrest (SCA). However, if someone is experiencing SCA due to fibrillation, defibrillation may be their only chance for survival.

But before we dive into the different kinds of heart rhythms — and discover which ones are shockable and which ones aren’t — we’re going to share a few shocking statistics about sudden cardiac arrest (SCA) and out of hospital cardiac arrest (OHCA).

Shocking Statistics About SCA and OHCA

  • In 2015, out-of-hospital sudden cardiac arrest mortality in the US was 366,807
  • 17.9 million people across the globe die from cardiovascular disease each year.
  • 350,000 out-of-hospital cardiac arrests (OHCA) occur in the US every year.
  • Only 46% of people who experience an OHCA get the help they need before EMTs arrive.
  • If administered immediately after cardiac arrest, CPR can double or triple a person’s chance of survival.
  • 45% of out-of-hospital cardiac arrest victims survive when bystander CPR is administered.


What’s the Difference Between a Shockable heart rhythm and a non-shockable heart rhythm?

Shockable Rhythms

Ventricular tachycardia (VT or V-tach) and ventricular fibrillation (VF or V-fib) are both shockable rhythms.

Both V-tach and V-fib are treatable with defibrillation. V-fib is the most common and it occurs with a normal heart rhythm becomes irregular, short, and beats too quickly. “This is the most serious of all arrhythmias. V-fib occurs when erratic signals cause the ventricles to quiver. The heart cannot pump blood, causing cardiac arrest (AHA).”

Another common form of heart arrhythmia that occurs during cardiac is ventricular tachycardia. In ventricular tachycardia, the heart beats faster than normal, about 100 or more beats per minute, and the lower chambers are beating out of sync with the upper chambers.

Check out this article from the AHA’s Interactive Cardiovascular Library to see V-tach and V-fib in action. 

Non-shockable Rhythms

The two non-shockable rhythms are pulseless electrical activity (PEA) and asystole. If an AED detects these rhythms and activity, you will be prompted with a “no shock advised” message. In these instances, identifying primary causation and performing good CPR — and administering epinephrine, if available — are the only tools you have to resuscitate the patient. 


To learn more about V-fib and V-tach and how AEDs can help improve SCA survival rates, get your CPR and AED certifications


DISCLAIMER: Information and resources found on the aed.com website and blog are intended to educate, inform, and motivate readers to make their health and wellness decisions after consulting with their healthcare provider. The authors are not healthcare providers. NO information on this site should be used to diagnose, treat, prevent, or cure any disease or condition.