Prior to taking American Heart Classes to learn to use an automatic external defibrillator (AED), it doesn't hurt to learn some information about it. It will make learning to use a defibrillator much easier.You won't have to stress about learning everything about CPR and other life-saving techniques all in one course. 

General Information

Firstly, you should know what a defibrillator is. It's an electronic device that sends an electric shock to the heart in order to trigger normal heart rhythms. It's mostly commonly used during cardiac arrest; however, it can be used when a person is having dangerous arrhythmia. The AEDs are portable and simple to use. 

When to Use Them

If you found someone totally pulseless, you don't need to use the AED. It will not revive them since the point of using an automatic external defibrillator is to shock to make it stop, so it resets itself and begins to beat again. You may want to try using the defibrillator if you watched someone become pulseless because there is a slight chance it can revive them. Ventricular tachycardia is an ideal time to use a defibrillator. This particular condition is when a person's pulse is over 100 beats per minute, and there are at least three irregular beats in a row. Someone who suffers from an episode of this may experience fainting, dizziness or fatigue in addition to having a quick heart rate. 

Ventricular fibrillation is another condition to use one on. This occurs when the heart beats in an abnormal rhythm. During ventricular fibrillation, the heart beats fast and out of rhythm. People who suffer from this may experience dizziness, nausea, chest pain, shortness of breath or a rapid, fluttering heartbeat. â€‹

CPR tends to be done until defibrillation can occur; however, this procedure won't restart the heart. It keeps blood flowing until a defibrillator can be used. 

How to Use One

Begin by making sure the person is actually unconscious, and the person is not just sleeping. Shout and shake an adult to see if they're responsive. Infants and young children shouldn't be shook; instead, you should pinch the child to try and get a response. Check the person's breathing and pulse. If either are abnormal, you should use the AED as soon as possible because every second does count. Make sure the person is near a dry area. Power on the AED and listen to the step by step instructions. Expose the victim's chest. Make sure it's dry and then apply the pads to the person's chest like pictured on the AED's instructions. One pad should be near the right center of the victim just above the nipples, while the other should be a little bit below the other nipple on the left side of the ribcage. Check for an implanted medical device like a pacemaker and make sure you move the paddle at least one inch away from it. Remove anything metal such as jewelry or a bra with an underwire. Press the "Analyze" button, which will evaluate the heart rate and determine if you should send a shock or not. If it says you should, you'll need to press the "Shock" button. 

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