What is the difference between CPR & AED?

Automated External Defibrillators (AEDs) are becoming common, so much so that many people easily forget that they’ve been around for only a while. With companies like AED Advantage Sales Ltd making it more affordable and accessible, the future’s looking bright. It means that more and more people can now be saved during a sudden cardiac arrest (SCA) incident outside a hospital setting. Even under ideal conditions, AED use has to be part of a coordinated cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) to give the SCA victims the best chance of survival.

This is a guide describing how AEDs and CPR both contribute to saving the lives of SCA victims.

Basics of CPR

Cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) is the process of getting an unresponsive individual to breathe normally and have a regular heart rhythm. It involves chest compressions along with artificial ventilation (getting air into the victim’s lungs). Chest compressions are necessary to restart the victim’s heart once it has stopped beating. However, they may not be sufficient on their own. That’s where AEDs come in.

To perform effective CPR,

-Kneel close to the victim’s side. Depending on your dominant hand, choose the most convenient side.

-Put the heel of one hand on the lower half of the victim’s chest. Ideally, this should be on the lower half of the breastbone.

-Place the other hand’s heel on top of the first hand, parallel in direction. Ensure your shoulders and general center mass are directly above your hands for better pressure.

-Begin the chest compressions. Push hard and deep using the heel of your hands. Ideally, you want to push at least 2 inches with each compression.

-Lift your hands’ entire weight off the chest with each compression. This allows for a complete recoil.

-Go fast. You want to compress the chest at the rate of about 100 per minute.

If you’re not properly trained to perform CPR on a victim, call for help immediately.

When is an AED Needed?

As mentioned, AEDs are crucial to reviving victims of sudden cardiac arrest (SCA). In a normal individual, the heart rhythm is steady thanks to its electrical system. During a sudden cardiac arrest, one of two things could happen. First, there could be a disruption in the normal functioning of the heart’s electrical system, leading to an abnormally fast heartbeat (ventricular tachycardia). Second, there could be an irregular heart rhythm, either due to the malfunctioning electrical system or some other health condition.

Either one of these situations can lead to a sudden cardiac arrest. Given the heart’s importance in supplying the body with nutrient-rich blood, an SCA can lead to problems fairly quickly. The brain, for instance, is one of the first organs to suffer damage when deprived of nutrients and oxygen, incurring irreversible damage in a matter of minutes.

An AED is crucial to restoring the heart’s rhythm during an SCA, thereby reducing the chances of permanent brain damage and possible death.

Using an AED together with CPR greatly improves the survival chances of victims even though only the AED can restore a normal heart rhythm.

To use an AED,

-Start by checking for the victim’s pulse and breathing. Call for help if none are present. If you’re alone, call for help before proceeding to prepare the AED.

-Turn on the AED. These devices are programmed to give voice instructions, enabling you to do things systematically. For example, it will tell you how and where to position the pads on the victim’s chest.

-Deliver the shock. Once you’ve placed the pads as instructed, the AED will gauge the victim’s heart rhythm. This helps to determine if an electric shock should be delivered. If the machine determines that a shock is necessary, it will instruct you to step away from the victim while it delivers the shock.

– If you began with CPR before resorting to the AED, you should restart it now. The AED will also instruct you on how to perform CPR. Continue with CPR for as long as is necessary or until the emergency medical team arrives.

Of course, it helps if you’re familiar with how to operate an AED. There are some special considerations to keep in mind. For example, the victim shouldn’t be anywhere near water or any wet surfaces when using the device on them.

Deciding If an AED is Necessary

Given that a sudden cardiac arrest can befall even the healthiest of individuals, it doesn’t hurt to have a fully functional AED lying around. If anything, it’ll offer peace of mind. That’s why many public places like shopping malls and corporate offices are now adopting it, much like fire extinguishers are now standard in nearly all buildings. As such, even homeowners would be well-advised to keep an AED handy just in case.

Ultimately, having an AED around could mean the difference between life and death for an SCA victim.

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