A defibrillator is a machine that transmits shock or electrical energy to the heart and is used to treat a patient during a cardiac arrest. The requirement for such a treatment arises when a patient has ventricular tachycardia or ventricular fibrillation. These are life-threatening arrhythmic situations that occur when there is an abnormal contraction of the ventricles.
The defibrillators include electrocardiogram leads and adhesive electrodes or patches. The patches or electrodes are placed on the patient’s chest to deliver an electric shock.
Different types of defibrillators are used for different purposes. For instance, automatic external defibrillators (AEDs) are used to save the lives of patients who may be experiencing cardiac arrest. Some affordable Lifepak defibrillators are found in many public places so that even untrained bystanders can easily use them during an emergency.
Some other categories of defibrillators are used on patients with a high risk of suffering from life-threatening arrhythmia. They include ICDs, which are surgically placed inside the body or the WCDs that rest on the body.
Different Types of Defibrillators
The AED (Automated External Defibrillator) is a light, battery-operated, portable device that detects the heart’s rhythm to send an electrical shock that could restore the normal rhythm. Hence, this device assists people suffering from cardiac arrest.
Sensors are built into a few sticky pads called electrodes. They are attached to a patient’s chest suffering from cardiac arrest—the electrodes relay information about the person’s heart rhythm to a computer. The computer then analyses the information to decide whether a person requires an electric shock. If needed, the shock is then delivered by the electrodes. And in this way, untrained people could operate affordable Lifepak defibrillators to aid a person suffering from a cardiac arrest.
WCDs are Wearable Cardioverter Defibrillators and are attached to the patient’s skin. These come connected to wires of a unit that check the patient’s heart rhythm to deliver the shock. Like the ICDs, the WCDs can transmit low and high-energy shocks. The machine comes with a belt that is attached to the vest that is worn under the clothes. It is then programmed to detect a particular heart rhythm.
The sensors will detect if an arrhythmia occurs and send out an alert. The alert can be turned off if a shock is not required. If there is no response, the device delivers a shock to the patient’s heart to rectify the rhythm. All this typically gets over within a minute. The machine can deliver several shocks repeatedly to rectify the rhythm during an episode, and the sensors are replaced after every episode. The device can also record heart activity and send the information to a doctor.
Implantable Cardioverter Defibrillators, popularly called ICDs, are surgically placed in the chest or stomach area of the patient to check for abnormal rhythms. Arrhythmia normally interferes with the blood flow from the heart to the rest of the body and may cause the heart to stop. ICDs deliver a shock to restore the natural rhythm of the heart.
ICDs work like pacemakers but only deliver low-energy shocks that speed up or slow down the abnormal heart rhythm. The device can deliver a high-energy electrical shock if the low-energy electrical shock doesn’t restore the natural rhythm.
Some ICDs come with wires which rest inside a chamber or two of the heart. Other ICDs do not require wires to be placed into the heart chamber but rest on the heart to monitor the rhythm.
There are various defibrillators available these days. Some require medical assistance from trained professionals, while anyone can use others. Any untrained person can use affordable Lifepak defibrillators. They could be instrumental in a locality, office, or community so that even before medical professionals arrive at an emergency, anyone can deliver some early assistance to people suffering from a cardiac arrest, to whom every second is crucial.