Find Information About:

Drugs & Supplements

Get information and reviews on prescription drugs, over-the-counter medications, vitamins, and supplements. Search by name or medical condition.

Pill Identifier
WebMD

Pill Identifier

Having trouble identifying your pills?

Enter the shape, color, or imprint of your prescription or OTC drug. Our pill identification tool will display pictures that you can compare to your pill.

Get Started
My Medicine
WebMD

My Medicine

Save your medicine, check interactions, sign up for FDA alerts, create family profiles and more.

Get Started

WebMD Health Experts and Community

Talk to health experts and other people like you in WebMD's Communities. It's a safe forum where you can create or participate in support groups and discussions about health topics that interest you.

  • Second Opinion
    WebMD

    Second Opinion

    Read expert perspectives on popular health topics.

  • Community
    WebMD

    Community

    Connect with people like you, and get expert guidance on living a healthy life.

Got a health question? Get answers provided by leading organizations, doctors, and experts.

Get Answers

Sign up to receive WebMD's award-winning content delivered to your inbox.

Sign Up

Heart Failure Health Center

Font Size
A
A
A

Defibrillators and Sudden Cardiac Arrest

By
WebMD Health News

Oct. 18, 1999 (Atlanta) -- Every year more than 350,000 people suddenly go into cardiac arrest, making heart failure the leading cause of death in the western world. It can happen in any stadium or any airport -- or anywhere -- and if there's an automatic defibrillator nearby, even a sixth grader could save a life, according to a study in the Oct. 20 issue of Circulation: The Journal of the American Heart Association.

Defibrillators, which are increasingly being installed in public places, can detect abnormal heart rhythms and shock the heart back into action.

"Given the magnitude of the cardiac arrest problem, it's an important issue," author Gust H. Bardy, MD, at the University of Washington Medical Center, tells WebMD in an interview. "Nothing comes close to the problem of cardiac arrest in mortality in the U.S."

In a mock cardiac arrest scenario, the study measured how quickly 15 untrained children could respond in a crisis situation and put the defibrillator to use. The results were compared to response time of 22 trained emergency medical technicians and paramedics. 'Resusci-Annie' -- a mannequin used in emergency response training -- served as the 'victim.'

All children had their time one-on-one with the mannequin; none were allowed to watch the others, says Bardy. The equipment 'talked' each child through the procedure.

"When you open the case of the automated emergency defibrillator, you push an 'on' button, and it starts telling you what to do, where to put the pads, in a soothing yet authoritative voice," says Bardy. The devices, which are used worldwide, can be programmed for any language. A visual diagram also shows where pads should be applied. While the sixth graders averaged 90 seconds 'time to defibrillation,' the trained EMT/paramedic group averaged 67 seconds.

"We realized that [using children] was an extreme circumstance, but we wanted to show that anyone who could reach these devices [could use them] with no formal training," he says. "Of course, you can never make it as real as a real cardiac arrest."

"We've had three-year-olds call 911. My four-year-old can build complicated Lego constructions. Applying a pad and pushing a button are not very complicated," Bardy says. "It's hard to misuse these devices. They are very smart. They are able to figure out true cardiac arrest from stroke or fainting spells. It can replace CPR in many cases if applied early, but if a person has been down for a long time, it gets more complicated."

1 | 2 | 3

Today on WebMD

Compressed heart
Article
Salt Shockers
Slideshow
 
Inside A Heart Attack
Slideshow
lowering blood pressure
SLIDESHOW
 

Mechanical Heart
Article
Omega 3 Overview Slideshow
Slideshow
 
Atrial Fibrillation Guide
Slideshow
Simple Steps to Lower Cholesterol
Slideshow
 

Compressed heart
Article
FAQ Heart Failure
Article
 
Cholesterol Confusion
Health Check
Resolved To Quit Smoking
Slideshow
 

WebMD Special Sections