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First Aid & Emergencies

Guidelines for CPR and Automated External Defibrillators

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Cardiac arrest, which often leads to a heart attack, is frighteningly common: every minute of every day there is another victim, according to the American Red Cross. Almost 80% of cardiac arrests occur at home and are witnessed by a family member. Would you know what to do if someone you loved experienced a cardiac emergency? Make sure you're prepared -- take a CPR (cardiopulmonary resuscitation) class and get trained to use an automated external defibrillator, or AED. It could mean the difference between life and death.

What Is an Automated External Defibrillator (AED)?

The automated external defibrillator is a computerized device used to restart a heart that has stopped beating, or is beating too quickly to create a pulse. Defibrillators work by shocking the heart back into action.

Many public places, including airports, casinos, gyms, malls, and sporting venues, have defibrillators on hand in case of emergency. In the past, only trained medical professionals were able to use defibrillators. However, today's new automated external defibrillators can be used by anyone.

When to Use CPR: Recognizing an Emergency

The first step in saving a life is being able to recognize an emergency. Know the warning signs of a heart attack. Anyone who is unresponsive should receive emergency care. If you are with someone who complains of chest pain and then collapses, odds are he or she is having a heart attack or is in cardiac arrest. If possible, have someone else call 911 while you start CPR.

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