Sudden Cardiac Arrest & AED Devices

Sudden cardiac arrest (SCA) is the leading cause of death in the United States, taking the lives of 350,000 adults every year. This is more than lung cancer, breast cancer and AIDS, combined. But, SCA is not just an adult thing. It is the leading cause of death of student athletes and takes the lives of thousands of students annually.

SCA is what happens when the heart stops beating, suddenly and unexpectedly. It is caused by one of two types of heart conditions. A structural defect (e.g. cardiomyopathy) makes it difficult for the heart to work because it is the wrong size or the valves are in the wrong place. An electrical defect (e.g. Long QT Syndrome) disrupts the normal rhythm. In both instances, the heart stops pumping blood and the individual just collapses.

What are the Warning Signs?

Sudden cardiac arrest happens suddenly, but there are warning signs. If you experience any of these symptoms, you may have an undetected heart condition.

  1. Fainting or seizure-like symptoms during or immediately after exercise.
  2. Unexplained shortness of breath.
  3. Dizziness
  4. Extreme fatigue
  5. A racing heart
  6. Sudden and unexplained death of a family member under the age of 50 (particularly SIDS, drowning and auto accidents).

What is an AED Device?

An automated external defibrillator (AED) is a portable device that delivers a shock to restore the heart’s normal rhythm. It is the only tool that can do this. In other words, it must be used to save someone who is experiencing cardiac arrest.

AED devices are smart devices. Once powered up, it provides voice prompts for the user. It evaluates the heart’s rhythm and then advises when a shock is needed. In other words, you can’t shock someone who doesn’t need it. You turn it on. The AED does all of the thinking.

Research shows that someone has the best chance of survival if an AED is used within the three minutes of a person collapsing. In fact, using an AED device increases the chances of survival by seventy percent.