In a cardiac emergency, a defibrillator can be a lifesaver.
“It senses if the heart stops and can actually shock the heart internally and return normal function,” says Dr. Richard Chazal, a cardiologist with Lee Memorial Health System.
The device takes several forms, including AEDs or Automatic External Defibrillators. Those are the ones you see in public places like malls, golf courses and stadiums.
“These are devices that if I had a cardiac arrest someone could apply these pads either a trained layperson or a fireman could apply these and shock my heart,” says Dr. Chazal.
Defibrillators are also surgically implanted in patients to protect their hearts from the inside out.
“In someone who’s at very high risk having that device already internally implanted means that it’s automatic and it takes care of that right away,” says Dr. Chazal.
A new option is the wearable defibrillator, a hybrid of sorts; it’s worn outside the body but monitors the heart much like the internal device. It can also deliver a life-saving jolt.
“In people who’s heart muscle function is very poor and statistically are at a high risk for a cardiac arrest,” says Dr. Chazal.
The wearable defibrillator serves as a bridge of sorts for someone waiting on advanced treatment. It’s worn on average for 60 days.
“And can be used to improve the pumping function of the heart temporarily in anticipation usually that the person might go on for example and have a heart transplantation in the future,” says Dr. Chazal.
When it comes to matters of the heart, a little shock value goes a long way.