Automated external defibrillators (AEDs) are the most important medical device used in the immediate treatment of someone who has suffered a cardiac arrest. According to the Heart & Stroke Foundation of Canada:
“An automated external defibrillator (AED) is a small, portable device used to identify cardiac rhythms and deliver a shock to correct abnormal electrical activity in the heart. As a result of the sophisticated electronics in an AED the operator will only be advised to deliver a shock if the heart is in a rhythm which can be corrected by defibrillation. If a shockable rhythm is not detected, no shock can be given and the provider will be instructed to perform cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) until emergency medical services arrive.”
If you’re considering getting an AED for your home, you may have some questions — we aim to answer those in this post. For an overview of automated external defibrillators and what they do, please read our previous article, “What is an Automated External Defibrillator (AED)?”
What is the biggest advantage of using an AED?
The Heart & Stroke Foundation of Canada estimates that up to 40,000 cardiac arrests occur in Canada every year. Eight out of ten cardiac arrests happen at home or in public places, and cardiac arrest can happen to people of any age, gender, and fitness level at any time.
When combined with cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR), cardiac arrest survival rates can be increased by over 75% if an automated external defibrillator is used immediately.
As such, AEDs play an incredibly important role in the emergency treatment of those who have suffered a cardiac arrest. Automated external defibrillators may be the only medical device that can save a life before an ambulance arrives in such an event.
Those who suffer from sleep apnea could be more at risk of suffering a cardiac arrest because sleep apnea can cause abnormal heart rhythms. For more information on this and other reasons why automated external defibrillators are considered essential in the emergency treatment of a cardiac arrest, please read “Why are AEDs Important?”.
Can you buy an AED for your home?
Yes, there are many automated external defibrillators available for home use. The AEDs on the market today are designed to be easy to use so that should an emergency arise, treatment can be administered quickly and effectively.
The Heart & Stroke Foundation of Canada recommends that Canadians have widespread access to automated external defibrillators so that in the case of a medical emergency, AEDs are readily available.
Are AEDs covered by insurance?
Health insurance does not cover the cost of an automated external defibrillator for your home in most cases. However, if you have an existing heart condition and are considered at risk for cardiac arrest, it’s always worth talking to your insurance provider about your options.
Most automated external defibrillators have a battery life of up to four years, meaning you won’t have to replace your AED frequently.
Can anyone purchase an AED or do I need a doctor’s note?
You don’t need a doctor’s note or a prescription to purchase an automated external defibrillator. Anyone can purchase an AED for their home, but you should research your options carefully to determine which AED is right for you.
Automated external defibrillators designed for home use have different features depending on the brand and model. For a detailed comparison of some of our most popular home AEDs, please read “Defibtech AED vs Philips AED vs ZOLL AED.”
Do I need training to use an AED?
You do not need training in order to use an automated external defibrillator. People of all ages can use AEDs safely with no previous training.
Many automated external defibrillators have systems which include audio — or even visual — instructions to guide you through the process of administering treatment. The Defibtech Lifeline View AED, for example, is the first and only automated external defibrillator to display video instructions in full motion colour.
Although these AEDs are designed to be user-friendly, you may wish to complete AED training for your own peace of mind if you’re considering purchasing an automated external defibrillator for your home. You can find CPR and AED training resources from the Heart & Stroke Foundation of Canada here.
Are AEDs portable?
Yes, automated external defibrillators are portable and lightweight. They’re designed this way to ensure the person administering the treatment can quickly transport the AED to the site of the medical emergency. Many automated external defibrillators weigh between just 3lbs and 7lbs, making them easy to carry for most individuals.
Purchasing an AED for your home is a potentially life-saving step. There are many automated external defibrillators available and it’s essential to research your options thoroughly before deciding which AED is right for you and your home. You may also wish to consult with your doctor prior to purchasing an automated external defibrillator should you wish to seek further advice.