A defibrillator could save your life if you go into cardiac arrest. With the help of this device, which sends an electric charge to the heart, your heart’s rhythm may be brought back to normal. Even after defibrillation from defibrillators, many people still don’t make it through cardiac arrest. It is common for cancer survivors to need more than one treatment to get better.
So, what is a defibrillator exactly?
A defibrillator is a machine that sends an electric shock to the heart to stop an irregular heartbeat that could be fatal, like ventricular tachycardia (no pulse) or ventricular fibrillation. Both irregular heartbeats happen in the ventricles, the bottom chambers of the heart.
If you or someone you know is having any of the above arrhythmias, go to a hospital or other place with an automated external defibrillator to get medical help. But if you are at a high risk of an arrhythmia that could kill you, you may need a personal defibrillator that you can always carry with you.
Private usage defibrillators
Depending on the person using it, the shock from a personal defibrillator could be completely harmless or as painful as getting kicked in the chest.
Patients who are at high risk for an arrhythmia that could kill them can use defibrillators. A cardioverter defibrillator looks like a vest and can be worn under clothes in case of an emergency. The sensors touch your skin, and if the device senses that your heartbeat isn’t regular, it may give you an electric shock.
Why do you need to use a defibrillator?
If you have a sudden cardiac arrest, a defibrillator may help you live longer, but cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) only helps temporarily. Even if a person already has a pacemaker or an ICD, a defibrillator can get their heartbeat back to normal (ICD).
Here are the things that a first responder or medical professional will do:
Attach the paddles of the defibrillator to your chest or put two sticky pads on your chest. Both the nipples, on the right and left, should rest on a pad or paddle. The pads themselves are made of a material that keeps you from getting burned. But before using paddles, your doctor will need to put something on your chest that will conduct electricity.
Just press a button on the machine to shock the sticky pads. To use the paddles, you hold in your hands, press the button on both paddles at the same time.
A defibrillator works by temporarily stopping the heart muscle from contracting, letting the heart make an electrical impulse that brings back a normal rhythm. Defibrillation is a procedure that sets your heart back to normal.
When a defibrillator is used, it makes you wonder what will happen next.
The first person to help you will keep pressing on your chest for another two minutes. The next step is to check your heart rate and rhythm to see if they are normal.
If your blood is moving, but you are not responding, your doctor may lower your temperature to between 32 and 36 degrees Celsius (89.6 to 96.8 degrees Fahrenheit) to protect and help your brain recover. If your health has been stable, your doctor may suggest a cardiac catheterization.
An automated external defibrillator (AED) can look at your heartbeat and decide if you need a shock. The defibrillator charges itself and tells people how to use them through a voice prompt.