-- Robert Preidt
FRIDAY, Feb. 21, 2014 (HealthDay News) -- Potentially
life-saving devices called automated external defibrillators are
common in public places across the United States and can help
rescue people suffering a sudden cardiac arrest, government health
Sudden cardiac arrest -- a leading cause of death in the nation
-- results from a malfunction in the heart's electrical system.
Automated external defibrillators deliver an electrical shock to
restore the heart's normal rhythm. The devices are found in many
shopping malls, grocery stores, airports, schools and offices.
Someone who suddenly collapses and is unresponsive and not
breathing normally may have suffered sudden cardiac arrest.
Bystanders need to call 911, start CPR and then look for an
automated external defibrillator, says the U.S. Food and Drug
"Defibrillation is a time-sensitive issue," Dr. Oscar Tovar-Calderon, a medical officer at FDA, said in an agency news release.
For every minute that a person in sudden cardiac arrest has an
abnormal heart rhythm, the chances of survival fall by 7 percent to
10 percent, he said. If the automated external defibrillator fails
to deliver an electric shock, bystanders should continue CPR until
an emergency responder arrives.
Automated external defibrillators are not difficult to use and
provide voice prompts to guide users, but the FDA highly recommends
that people get trained in their use. Training is frequently
offered along with CPR instruction by groups such as the American
Red Cross, the American Heart Association and private
People who have a heart condition and are most at risk for
sudden cardiac arrest may want to talk to their doctor about having
an automated external defibrillator at home, Tovar-Calderon
Each year, about 383,000 Americans with sudden cardiac arrest
are treated by emergency medical responders. Less than 12 percent
of those patients survive.
The U.S. National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute has more
automated external defibrillators.
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