An automated external defibrillator (AED) is a lightweight, portable device that delivers an electric shock through the chest to the heart. The shock can stop an irregular rhythm and allow a normal rhythm to resume in a heart in sudden cardiac arrest. Sudden cardiac arrest is an abrupt loss of heart function. If it’s not treated within minutes, it quickly leads to death.
Most sudden cardiac arrests result from
ventricular fibrillation. This is a rapid and unsynchronized heart rhythm starting in the heart’s lower pumping chambers (the ventricles). The heart must be “defibrillated” quickly, because a victim’s chance of surviving drops by 7 to 10 percent for every minute a normal heartbeat isn’t restored.