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What is a Defibrillator?

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Defibrillator Basics:

All defibrillators have a way to analyze the heart rhythm of a patient and, if needed, will send a controlled electrical shock through the heart. Many people think a defibrillator restarts a stopped heart. In actuality, the heart is quivering and the action of the defibrillator shock temporarily stops the heart for a fraction of a second. It is at this point that the goal is for the heart to stop quivering and start again in a normal rhythm to once again circulate blood through the body.

Types of Defibrillators:

Fully Automated External Defibrillators:
Fully automated external defibrillators are rare but still exist. Once they are turned on and the pads placed on the patient, they will automatically analyze the patient’s heart rhythm and shock without any intervention from the rescuers. These types of defibrillators are particularly dangerous for rescuers because they have no control over when the defibrillator shocks.

Semi-Automated External Defibrillators:
Semi-automated external defibrillators, commonly referred to as AED’s, are the most common types of defibrillators. They can be found in schools, airports, shopping malls and other such public places. These defibrillators have an on/off button along with one or two more buttons to analyze and shock. These types of defibrillators are much safer than the fully automated defibrillators because they require active involvement of rescuers to push a button before the defibrillator will shock.

Manual Defibrillator:
Manual defibrillators are generally used by paramedics and by physicians in a hospital setting. They often have a monitor attached with multiple electrodes so the person using it can see exactly what the heart is doing. These defibrillators have options for the user to choose the exact amount of electricity that is delivered to the patient.

Implanted Defibrillator:
An implanted defibrillator is surgically placed into a patient who is susceptible to abnormal heart rhythms. Once the implanted defibrillator detects an abnormal heart rhythm which can be treated with the electrical shock, it automatically produces the treatment.

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