Skip to main content

What is Defibrillation

Defibrillation Pronunciation: dē-ˌfi-brə-ˈlā-shən

Definition: Defibrillation is a life-saving medical intervention that delivers an electrical shock to the heart, aimed at terminating certain types of life-threatening abnormal heart rhythms, such as ventricular fibrillation or pulseless ventricular tachycardia. The electrical shock helps restore the heart’s normal rhythm, allowing it to pump blood effectively and maintain circulation.

Frequently Asked Questions About Defibrillation

How does defibrillation work?

Defibrillation works by delivering a controlled electrical shock to the heart, which depolarizes the heart muscle cells simultaneously. This interrupts the chaotic electrical activity causing the abnormal heart rhythm and allows the heart’s natural pacemaker to regain control and reestablish a normal, coordinated heartbeat.

What devices are used for defibrillation?

Defibrillation can be performed using:

  1. An Automated External Defibrillator (AED): A portable, user-friendly device that automatically analyzes the heart rhythm and delivers a shock if needed. AEDs are designed for use by both laypeople and healthcare professionals.
  2. A Manual Defibrillator: A device used by trained healthcare professionals that allows them to analyze the heart rhythm, determine the need for defibrillation, and manually deliver the appropriate shock.

When is defibrillation necessary?

Defibrillation is necessary when a person is experiencing life-threatening abnormal heart rhythms, such as ventricular fibrillation or pulseless ventricular tachycardia, which can lead to sudden cardiac arrest. In these situations, defibrillation must be performed as soon as possible to increase the chances of survival and minimize the risk of brain damage or other complications.

What are the risks associated with defibrillation?

While defibrillation is a life-saving intervention, some risks are associated with the procedure, including:

  • Burns or skin irritation at the site of the electrode pads.
  • Potential injury to the heart muscle or surrounding tissues.
  • Accidental injury to bystanders if they are in contact with the person receiving the shock.

Despite these risks, defibrillation is a critical intervention for treating life-threatening abnormal heart rhythms and should be performed promptly in an emergency situation. Proper training and following the guidelines for the use of defibrillators can minimize these risks.