To understand the benefit of a defibrillator in the workplace or at home it is important to know what sudden cardiac arrest actually is and how a defibrillator can help to save the life of a victim.
Sudden cardiac arrest is caused by arrhythmias. Problems with the heart's electrical system cause arrhythmias (the heart beating too fast, too slow or with an irregular rhythm), that prevent the blood flowing around the body, providing oxygen to the brain, and causing collapse and unconsciousness (the outward symptom of sudden cardiac arrest).
People with coronary heart disease are at a higher risk of sudden cardiac arrest, in fact 80% of sudden cardiac arrest in Australia is caused by this previous health condition. However it can also strike the young.
Primary causes of sudden cardiac arrest caused by physical stress are:
- Intense physical activity
- Very low blood levels of potassium or magnesium
- Major blood loss.
- Severe lack of oxygen
There is also a risk of sudden cardiac arrest if arrhythmias run in the family, and often a family medical history may be unknown.
Most people will die from a sudden cardiac arrest. In fact, 15,000-20,000 Australians die from sudden cardiac arrest each year and there is only a 2%-5% survival rate. Immediate treatment of sudden cardiac arrest with a defibrillator can be the one element that saves a victim’s life as 95% of people will not survive the trip to hospital. Using a defibrillator is the only method available to stop lethal cardiac arrest rhythms.
Defibrillators can be used by a bystander with no previous experience. They are compact, lightweight machines that are internally powered. A defibrillator will analyse a victim’s heart rhythms, recognise an irregular beat and provide a shock to help correct the rhythm. Historically only used by medical professionals, defibrillators have been developed to be easy to use, guiding the user through the process. For every minute that passes without the use of a defibrillator a victim’s chances of survival decrease by 10% and so it is vital that there is immediate access to such units in order to prevent irreversible damage or death. Some studies suggest that if a defibrillator is used in the first minute after collapse, a victim’s chance of survival may be as high as 70%!
The location of your defibrillator is important to getting early access and therefore intervention into sudden cardiac arrest. Having an easily portable device that is protected and conveniently stored is important. A defibrillator is a large investment which should be treated with care. With the Powerheart G5 AED Rescue Backpack you can keep your hand free whilst transporting the device, and it is ideal for bicycle medic teams, search-and-rescue teams and mobile first responders.