Doctors and other trained medical personnel are taught how to apply electrodes and send a shock to a person's heart. They have all the right equipment to do just that. You've probably seen the medical shows on TV that show a doctor putting them on and yelling, "clear!" These devices are known as defibrillators. Oftentimes, areas where plenty of people go such as a school or a large office building may have an automated external defibrillator (AED) on hand. However, some people should consider getting one for their homes. 

What Is an AED

An AED is a device that sends electrical impulses to the heart through electrodes that connect externally on a person's chest. A person connects it, and it determines if a pulse in necessary in order to restore the heart to its natural rhythm. It can only be used on someone who is going through cardiac arrest and has a life-threatening heart rhythm such as ventricular fibrillation or ventricular tachycardia. When a shock is necessary, it basically resets the heart by stopping it, so it can go back to a normal rhythm. Within the first three to five minutes of a person being in cardiac arrest, irreversible brain damage or death may occur. According to the American Heart Association, a person's chance of surviving from cardiac arrest when it's left untreated decreases by seven to 10 percent for every minute without a normal heartbeat.

Deciding if You Need a Defibrillator 

You can purchase a defibrillator to have at your home, and you don't even need a prescription. However, not everyone needs one, because cardiac arrest may be treated with cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) in many cases. You'd learn from American Heart classes when it's needed, and when it's not. 

CPR is usually the first step, and it gets some blood flowing back to the brain and the heart for a short period of time. In some instances, this isn't enough because the heart needs to resume its normal rhythm, and this can only be done through the use of a defibrillator.  

By having one in your home, you can get the assistance you need to save your life if you experience ventricular fibrillation. If someone is near you when it happens, they can connect the pads to you, and it will figure out if your heart needs an electrical current sent to it. By having an AED near, someone can save your life since ever second counts. The person will still need to call 9-1-1, but someone can save your life because it might be too late if you wait for Emergency Medical Services (EMS). Even if you have no history of heart disease, it can still be beneficial to have one on site. 

You may not want to get one if you live alone because you'll have no use for it if there's no one to use it on you. If the person living with you is unable to sit or squat on the floor to use it on you, there's no reason to have one.  

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