An automated external defibrillator, which is also known as an AED, is a device that helps increase the survival rate of patients who suddenly suffer cardiac arrest. It restores normal heart rhythm by delivering a shock to the heart. Cardiac arrest is a condition where the heart erratically quivers and stops beating. It is estimated that 350,000 people go into cardiac arrest every year. This condition can affect anyone of any age.

Time is of the essence when a person goes into cardiac arrest. It typically takes first responders eight to 12 minutes to arrive on the scene after 911 is called. However, a person’s chance of surviving cardiac arrest drops by 10 percent for every minute that defibrillation is delayed. The person’s chance of surviving sudden cardiac arrest is greatest when a defibrillator is used within five minutes of collapse.

An automated external defibrillator is very simple to operate, and it can even be used by someone who does not have a medical background. Every device is different, but they all work in a very similar way. All one has to do is follow the voice commands that the device gives. It has electrodes that analyze the person’s heart rhythm. If it determines that a shock is necessary, then it will advise the person to push the shock button. It may also advise a person to begin CPR.

Because an automated external defibrillator gives voice commands, it can even be used by people who have not received the proper AED training. However, people are strongly advised to take a course before they use this device. More organizations are opting to provide CPR and AED training to their employees.

It is estimated that if CPR and AED training is used together to treat sudden cardiac arrest, then the survival rate can increase from seven to 20 percent. Additionally, 50,000 lives can potentially be saved by an automated external defibrillator.

Learn more about who can use an AED, the benefits of an AED and how to use an AED.