Each year, at least 164 thousand Americans experience sudden cardiac arrest (SCA) outside of a hospital. CPR and early defibrillation with an automated external defibrillator (AED) more than doubles a victim's chance of survival. Ventricular fibrillation (VF) is the most common arrhythmia that causes cardiac arrest. Defibrillation is the only known treatment for VF. It is also the only known treatment for VF caused by commotio cordis. Commotio cordis (CC) is defined as a sudden disturbance of heart rhythm occurring mostly in young people during participation in sports. CC occurs as the result of a blunt, non-penetrating impact to the precordial region, often caused by impact of a ball, a bat or other projectile.
An Automated External Defibrillator or AED is a portable electronic device that automatically diagnoses life threatening cardiac arrhythmias of ventricular fibrillation and ventricular tachycardia. When applied to a patient's chest an AED will analyse the heart rhythm and size of a patients body, and if required will administer a properly sized electrical current to reset the heart's normal rhythm.
As in Larry's case, if defibrillation is delayed until ambulance personnel arrive, it is frequently too late to save the victim.
Most AED devices are by definition "automatic" and "fool proof". AED's only provide life-saving shocks to the victim when life threatening cardiac arrhythmias are present.
They are designed to be extremely simple to use by both laymen and professionals alike, and many provide not only life saving patient heart analysis and defibrillation, but also coaching on proper CPR techniques. When used to assist SCA victims, AEDs record the event data for later review.
AED use is now becoming a standard part of CPR and first responder training.