Let’s take a moment to dig deeper into the pros and cons of investing in AEDs. More than 356,000 people suffer cardiac arrest in an out-of-hospital setting across the US, and 90% of those cases result in death. However, studies show that early defibrillation can triple the survival rate in such events.
These staggering statistics emphasise the importance of making automated external defibrillators, (AEDs) readily available for everyone in public spaces, as well as homes and workplaces.
The reality is, with regular maintenance and proper use, AEDs can provide invaluable help should the need arise. However, there is still an ongoing debate about whether the benefits of owning an automated external defibrillator outweigh the risks.
After all, if a device is misused or not adequately maintained it can cause more harm than good. For this reason, let us dive deeper into the pros and cons of owning an automated external defibrillator and see who would benefit the most from investing in one.
What Are Automated External Defibrillators?
An AED, or an automated external defibrillator, is a portable, lightweight, life-saving device that delivers an electric shock to the heart in the event that a person experiences cardiac arrest. The shock is meant to restore normal heart rhythm and hopefully, successfully bring the victim back to life.
AEDs are meant to be used by medical personnel as well as lay people as part of an emergency response program together with CPR and calling for emergency help. They are typically very user-friendly devices that offer audio or visual instructions to guide the user through every step of the resuscitation process.
In addition to this, AEDs are calibrated to estimate heart rhythm and only deliver an electrical shock if it is absolutely needed. The AED will initiate the shock if the victim has ventricular fibrillation or pulseless ventricular tachycardia. On the other hand, if the AED reads a normal heart rhythm it will not shock the patient.
Pros of Investing in an AED
Automated external defibrillators have undisputable health benefits for people who suffer an out-of-hospital cardiac arrest. Statistics show that around 70% of out-of-hospital cardiac arrest cases happen in homes or residential areas, further highlighting the need for AEDs in households.
Below are just some of the advantages of owning an automated external defibrillator.
It Saves Lives
AEDs are devices meant to be used in emergency, life-or-death situations. When a person experiences a sudden cardiac arrest, their likelihood of survival decreases drastically with each passing second. In a matter of minutes, that person can be looking at significant brain damage or even death if proper resuscitation is not administered promptly.
This means that in such a scenario, there is practically no downside to using an AED. In fact, the survival rate of people who have been defibrillated within the first 3-5 minutes of their cardiac arrest can be as high as 75%.
Studies have demonstrated that bystanders can save lives by using AEDs when they are available. This does not just mean devices located outside in public spaces, but also at their homes.
Analysis showed that there was an increased likelihood of survival when a bystander used an automated external defibrillator rather than waiting for medical help to arrive and shock the patient.
Easy access is another major advantage of investing in an AED device. Due to their battery-powered function, AEDs are very easy to transport and use in all settings, making them very accessible when needed.
Nowadays you can find them on airplanes, public transport, malls, big stores, restaurants, and residential areas. Their use in households is still not as widespread as it should be due to their expensive price and lack of government funding.
Ease of Use
Most automated external defibrillators do not require prior training which means they are designed in a way that is extremely user-friendly. The defibrillator itself reads the victim’s heart rhythm and will administer an electric shock only if it detects irregular heart function. This means there is little to no risk of causing injury by shocking a person who does not need to be shocked.
AEDs also have visual or audio instructions guiding the first responder through every step of the process.
Cons of Investing in an AED
For a better understanding of the pros and cons of investing in AEDs, we’ll have to look at the cons now. Despite the great benefits of investing in an AED, some people have concerns about the potential risks of an automated external defibrillator investment. Some of those concerns include potential misuse of the device, risk of malfunction, training, and the high cost of obtaining the AED.
Although stores, restaurants, and airlines have no problem getting an automated external defibrillator, regular citizens can rarely afford or justify the purchase of an AED device for their own homes. Even the cheapest versions are out of reach for most people, and unfortunately, health insurance plans rarely cover the cost.
Improper use by reckless or irresponsible individuals may also be a risk or a disadvantage of investing in an AED. People who decide to have an AED in their home should inform all members of the household about the device and clarify the importance of approaching it with caution. Very young children that are still unable to understand the concept should not be allowed access to the device.
Risk of Malfunction
Between 2005 and 2011, the FDA received more than 45,000 reports of “adverse events” associated with AED failure and malfunctioning. This goes to show that like most devices, AEDs are not fail-safe, especially when they are not properly maintained.
To prolong the life of your automated external defibrillator you will need to practice regular upkeep by changing the batteries and electrodes each year and inspecting the circuits.
Some of the most commonly encountered problems include:
- Error messages displayed due to software bugs;
- Dried out electrodes due to untimely replacement;
- Malfunctioning resistors;
- Battery problems;
- Damaged and incompatible cables or connectors.
Although AEDs are made to be operated by individuals with or without prior training, adequate preparation increases the likelihood of successful use. Also, people who are already familiar with the device and how it functions know what to expect and have more confidence in handling the situation.
If you lack experience, you may want to consider standard first aid training that will provide the necessary information for performing CPR, as well as introduce you to the basics of using an AED.
Who Would Benefit From The Pros and Cons of Investing in AEDs?
Some are more prone to heart problems and have a higher risk of experiencing cardiac arrest than others. However, even people who seem perfectly healthy can have an underlying condition or issue that may cause an emergency.
Although it would be perfect if AEDs were widespread and available in every home, unfortunately, they remain out of reach for many regular citizens due to their high price.
However, even though they can be quite expensive, certain groups of people should seriously consider purchasing an AED for their home.
For instance, people who are at risk of sudden cardiac arrest due to a history of heart failure, known cardiac arrhythmia, or other heart conditions should invest in an AED. Additionally, people who have close family members that suffered or passed away due to heart failure might also want to consider buying the device.
These groups are more likely to experience returns on their investment because there is a high probability that they themselves, or those close to them, will experience heart problems and cardiac arrest. Having an automated external defibrillator may very well save their lives in the future.
Other people who would benefit from owning an AED would be firefighters, police officers, physicians, and other professionals who are trained at delivering emergency help. These are the people that the community most often turns to for help even when they are off duty.
Also, individuals who participate in sports and recreational activities especially those that put a lot of strain on the heart should consider getting an AED. People living in remote or rural areas where medical help requires more time to arrive, and all pool owners may also find themselves needing an AED at some point in their lives.
Conclusion: The Pros and Cons of Investing in AEDs
Automated external defibrillators are extremely important in our community today, and although they are not 100% failsafe the chances of survival with an AED at hand are always greater than without one.
These devices have been around for many years and have evolved and improved tremendously. So, we should remain hopeful that in the future they will become even more refined and affordable for everyone.
For now, everyone who is at risk of experiencing sudden cardiac arrest should seriously think about investing in an AED. If you have the means to buy the device, it may be the most important purchase you ever make. Contact us today for CPR Classes or for any questions about the pros and cons of investing in AEDs.