This EKG* belongs to a person who died of Sudden Cardiac Arrest on the golf course, approximately nine minutes after his heart went into a state of ventricular fibrillation (VF). Sudden cardiac death almost always results from VF – a rapid and disorganized activation of the heart’s ventricles. The best way to stop VF is to defibrillate the heart to try to restore regular rhythm and restore normal contractions through the use of electric shock.
But it’s important to get this done as soon as possible because organ damage can start within minutes of a VF episode. Immediately call 911 and start chest compressions or CPR, and find somebody nearby trained to use an AED on the patient. The important thing is to DO SOMETHING – do not just stand there! If you haven’t done this already, sign up for a basic CPR course, particularly if you have any loved ones at high risk for cardiovascular disease.
An Automated External Defibrillator (AED) is a small portable machine that can monitor heart rhythms, and it can also tell if the heart has stopped beating effectively. If required, the AED can then deliver an electric shock to the heart. This shock will often restart the heart.
According to the Heart and Stroke Foundation, defibrillation improves survival rates by up to 30% – but only if delivered in the first few minutes. With each passing minute, the probability of survival declines by 7 to 10%.
Making defibrillators easily accessible in all workplaces, community centres, schools, and public places has the potential to save thousands of lives each year.
And if you have a family member at high risk for sudden cardiac arrest, find out how you can be trained to use an AED.
Here’s more on what you should know about Automated External Defibrillators.
* EKG recorded on a 24-hour Holter monitor, courtesy of Dr. John Mandrola
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