Brief Guide: How Defibrillators Work?

March 30, 20200CPR Courses

Brief Guide: How Defibrillators Work?

March 30, 2020 0

When a person’s heart stops working, due to a cardiac arrest, it goes into a state of fibrillation, and the heartbeat either stops or becomes very irregular. Here, the defibrillator can prove to be a life-saving device. If you are looking for BLS for healthcare providers, look for a course that emphasizes and fully covers the defibrillators part of the process.

The best BLS for healthcare providers course would be the one comprehensively explaining how to use a defibrillator to bring the person back to life. In order to understand how it works, let us first understand what happens during a cardiac arrest.

When a person’s heart stops pumping, the blood flow to the body stops. When the blood flow to the brain stops, it does not receive the oxygen it needs to function. Hence, a person can undergo brain death in less than 5 minutes after a cardiac arrest. CPR ensures that the person’s brain doesn’t die and blood keeps flowing to it until the person starts breathing on his own. However, in most cases, defibrillators are needed to bring a person back to normal breathing.

How Defibrillator Works?

When the heart stops working properly during a cardiac arrest, the muscles of the heart start trembling or fibrillating. A defibrillator helps stop that trembling and bring the heart back to its proper functioning. It does so by giving the heart an electric shock of 200 to 1000 volts.

One of the most important factors for the effectiveness of this device is the placement of paddles. The correct placement of paddles on the chest ensures that the current does flow through the heart. There are two positions in which the paddles can be applied for the electric shock to be successful:

  • Applying one paddle slightly above and to the left of the heart and the other paddle slightly below and to the right of the heart
  • Putting one paddle on the chest and the other one on the back

Besides, a liquid or solid gel is applied to the person’s chest for conducting the electric current efficiently. However, the defibrillators installed in public places have sticky electrode pads in place of paddles. They are easy to use and require a lesser degree of professional knowledge.

Types of Defibrillators

Defibrillators can be categorized into three types. Here is a brief introduction about each one of them:

AEDs or PADs

Automated external defibrillators or public access defibrillators are installed in public places as well as hospitals following the written instructions. The self-adhesive pads and a built-in computer unit make them easy to be used by bystanders in case of a cardiac arrest. The computer unit decides where the electrode pads should be applied and what should be the voltage.

Manual External Defibrillators

These are used in hospitals and ambulances. They require the doctors or paramedics to find out where to apply electrodes and what should be the voltage.

Semi-Automated Defibrillators

This third type of defibrillator can be used in both modes. It can be used manually by a trained person or can also work as an automated defibrillator when needed.

When used properly, defibrillators can immensely increase a person’s chance to survive. They are truly a life-saving device and that is the reason they are being installed generously in public places today.

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