What does a defibrillator do to your heart?

Every year, British Heart Foundation – a charity organisation and the biggest funder of cardiovascular research in the UK – dedicates the month of February to further encourage people to make small changes in their lifestyle to become healthier. BHF, of course, promotes good heart health all year round but this month provides an opportunity to have a bigger push on the agenda.

Having a healthy heart is vital, it pumps blood through the vessels of the circulatory system – providing the body with oxygen and nutrients, as well as assisting in the removal of metabolic waste. Having a healthier lifestyle involves eating food that’s good for you, in moderation, and implementing regular exercise – though, even the healthiest of hearts can become subject to a cardiac arrest.

As previously mentioned, the heart pumps blood around the body – if this stops for any reason, the brain can be starved of oxygen and the time of death roughly sits at around five minutes. Cardiac arrest is the act of the heart stopping or adopting an extremely abnormal beating rhythm, which is why it requires emergency medical treatment. CPR can indeed help to maintain the oxygen flow to the brain, but getting a heart restarted, and restoring a normal beat rhythm, typically requires defibrillation.

That’s where defibrillators come into play. Stopping fibrillation – which is the trembling of the heart’s muscles – a defibrillator uses a high voltage to pass an electric current through to the heart. Defibrillators are becoming more and more commonplace in public areas due to the success rate being favourable, though AEDs (Automated External Defibrillators) can now do a lot of the work for the person using the device.

Using a built-in computer, an AED uses self-adhesive electrode pads to analyse heart rhythms and detect any abnormalities. Some models will automatically administer an electric shock should the patient require one, others will prompt the person who’s using the defibrillator to deliver the shock if one is needed.

AEDs are aimed more towards inexperienced users, and that’s why they are ideal for use in public locations such as bars, shops, and in workplaces. Fire and Safety Centre supplies a range of Defibrillators that all offer a good level of autonomy, making them as accessible as possible should such an unfortunate need arise.