An AED is an Automated External Defibrillator. It is a portable, simple to use, computerised device that can be used by anyone when someone suffers a sudden cardiac arrest to deliver a shock to the heart to allow it to resume its normal beating. A cardiac arrest is a sudden loss of heart function which causes a person to suddenly collapse. When this happens the person will not respond and will not be breathing normally (either only gasping or not breathing at all). This sudden collapse is caused because the heart’s electrical system has malfunctioned, and without immediate CPR and defibrillation the person will not survive. An AED can be used in such a situation to analyse the heart’s rhythm and it will automatically recognise if there is a life threatening rhythm that it can shock to stun the heart, allowing it to restore its normal electrical and pumping functions.
The AEDs are in use at sporting venues, schools, hotels, restaurants, offices, shopping centres around the country. The increasing availability is great because survival from cardiac arrest doubled when bystanders stepped in to use a publicly-available automated external defibrillator rather than wait until emergency responders arrived. Especially since coronary heart disease is Ireland’s top killer and according to the HPRA, it is estimated that 70% of all cardiac arrests happen outside of a healthcare environment, where the correct operation of an AED may be a life-saving intervention.
Last week, the Health Products Regulatory Authority (HPRA) is urging owners of automated external defibrillators (AEDs) to check that the recommended safety and maintenance updates on their device have been done. An estimated 614 AEDs require urgent updates to ensure they will work correctly in an emergency situation. Without these updates, the AED may not work as intended.
The devices may require a software upgrade – similar to upgrading software on your phone or computer – or the replacement of a component part within the AED. As part of the ongoing maintenance of an AED it important to consider if or when it will need to be replaced as AEDs like most pieces of equipment will have an expected lifespan, the HPRA said. At the time of purchase, the manufacturer should be able to provide this information along with details of the warranty period which will help ensure that the AED is kept up to date.
Medical Devices Vigilance Manager of the HPRA Anne Tobin said: “Particularly during winter months, these devices may be affected by dropping temperatures and environmental conditions so it is particularly important this time of year to ensure devices are stored and maintained well.
Information may be found by looking at the dedicated AED webpage on the HPRA’s website.