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Sudden Cardiac Arrest (SCA) can happen to anyone, anytime and anywhere. It could be your family member at home, your best friend at the store or your co-worker standing beside you.

Sudden Cardiac Arrest VS Heart Attack

Sudden Cardiac Arrest (SCA) occurs when the heart suddenly malfunctions and stops beating. Cardiac arrest is triggered by an electrical malfunction in the heart that causes an irregular heartbeat, also called an arrhythmia. With its pumping action disrupted, the heart cannot pump blood to the brain, lungs and other organs. Seconds later, a person becomes unresponsive, is not breathing or is only gasping. Death occurs within minutes if the victim
does not receive treatment.

Cardiac arrest can be reversible in some victims if it’s treated within a few minutes. Call your local emergency number and start CPR right away. Once an automated external defibrillator (AED) is available use it.

If two people are available to help, one
should begin CPR immediately while
the other calls your local emergency
number and finds an AED.

Cardiac arrest is a leading cause of death in the United States. Cardiac arrest is now the number 1 cause of death in youth athelets.

A HEART ATTACK occurs when blood flow to the heart is blocked. A blocked artery prevents oxygen-rich blood from reaching a section of the heart. If the blocked artery is not reopened quickly, the part of the heart normally nourished by that artery begins to die. Symptoms of a heart attack may be immediate and may include intense discomfort in the chest or other areas of the upper body, shortness of breath, cold sweats, and/or nausea/vomiting. More often, though, symptoms start slowly and persist for hours, days or weeks before a heart attack.

Unlike with cardiac arrest, the heart usually does not stop beating during a heart attack. The longer the person goes without treatment, the greater the damage. Even if you’re not sure it’s a heart attack, call your local emergency number. Every minute matters! It’s best to call your local emergency number to get to the emergency room right away. Emergency medical services (EMS) staff can begin treatment when they arrive-up to an hour sooner than if someone gets to the hospital by car. EMS staff are also trained to revive someone whose heart has stopped. Patients with chest pain who arrive by ambulance usually receive faster treatment at the hospital, too. The heart attack symptoms in women can be different than men (shortness of breath, nausea/vomiting, and back or jaw pain).

What is an AED?

Automated external defibrillators (AEDs) are portable, life-saving devices designed to treat people experiencing sudden cardiac arrest, a medical condition in which the heart stops beating suddenly and unexpectedly. The combination of CPR and early defibrillation is effective in saving lives when used in the first few minutes following a collapse from sudden cardiac arrest.

Why own an AED?

According to the CDC, more than 356,000 out-of-hospital cardiac arrests (OHCAs) are reported annually in the United States.  An estimated 70% to 90% of people experiencing OHCA die before reaching the hospital.

Cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) and use of an automated external defibrillator (AED) within minutes of OHCA can dramatically raise survival rates but are not commonly used or available. A 2018 study reported AED use at 10.8% in public settings before emergency medical services (EMS) arrive.


To increase OHCA survival rates, public access defibrillation (PAD) programs can use interventions that ensure AEDs are immediately accessible when needed.


Expansive evidence supports the efficacy of structured PAD programs that:

  • Disseminate AEDs for rapid access by lay bystanders

  • Train potential AED users

  • Link to EMS

  • Conduct quality improvement to improve system response


The placement of AEDs at public locations where cardiac arrest is likely to occur (schools, casinos, federal buildings, airports, fitness centers, churches, and workplaces) has been found to:

  • Increase OHCA survival

  • Increase rates of return of spontaneous circulation

  • Improve neurological outcomes for patients


In 2006, the AHA recommended states adopt legislative approaches to support community lay rescuer PAD programs. As of 2010, all 50 states and the District of Columbia had enacted one or more laws to:

  • Increase the availability and use of AEDs

  • Limit civil liability for lay bystander AED use

  • Require businesses, schools, and others to implement PAD programs1


OHCA survival rates varied widely among communities across the country. A 2015 Institute of Medicine (IOM) report recommended addressing legal barriers to bystander CPR and defibrillation and provided policy strategies for improving patient outcomes for cardiac arrest. This report noted that OHCA response and survival were affected by the quality of community health care systems, education, and local stakeholder collaboration.


The report also recommended the following changes to improve OHCA outcomes:

  • Creating a national registry to track cardiac arrest events and outcomes

  • Requiring AED placement and use training in schools

  • Improving EMS cardiac arrest recognition and treatment coordination

  • Conducting PAD program quality improvement initiatives

  • Increasing related research

Important Terms

“IP” stands for ingress protection. So an “IP Rating” can help you determine how protected your AED is from elements getting into the device, which can potentially cause damage and/or make the device not work as intended. IP Ratings are displayed with two numbers, for example, IP 54.

  • The first number, “5,” rates the level of protection the AED has against intrusion from solids, like dust

  • The second number, “4,” rates the level of protection the AED has against intrusion from moisture, like water

The higher each number is for an AED, the more protected the device is to either solid particles such as dust or moisture such as water. For example, an IP Rating of 54 is more resilient to dust than an IP Rating of 24.

Keep in mind that IP Ratings have nothing to do with how well an AED can withstand a drop or the stress induced by vibration. All AEDs must meet the same drop and shock standards in order to be approved by the Food and Drug Administration.

Semi-automatic  (SAED) VS. Fully Automatic(FAED). The AED analyzes the heart, and if a shock is warranted, the AED will say so and instruct the responder to press the shock button to deliver a shock. If the button isn’t pressed, no matter how badly the patient needs therapy, no life-saving “shock” will be delivered. A fully automatic AED (FAED) analyzes the heart, and if a shock is warranted, the AED will say so, instruct bystanders to stand back with no physical contact with the victim, and delivers a shock on its own.

Indemnity is defined by Black’s Law Dictionary as: “a duty to make good any loss, damage, or liability incurred by another.” AED indemnification clauses are similar to those found in agreements for many other medical devices. In fact, there are a couple of common terms we see in indemnification policies that are worth defining. Here are a few examples and what they might mean for you: 

  1. Definition of claims: These are the type of costs covered (or not covered!) in the policy. They typically include costs such as attorney’s fees, judgments, liens, and demands. If there are limitations of what is covered, such as indemnification only applies to those responding during an emergency, or if the policy is only triggered when the AED is proven to malfunction, this limitation will appear in the definition of the indemnification policy’s claims. 

  2. Cause of action: What has to occur to trigger the policy? 

  3. Other conditions and customer responsibilities: These are simple, yet critical, items for AED buyer to understand prior to their purchase. Some customer responsibilities are intuitive, like a requirement to use the AED unit according to the operating manual and instructions. Other requirements, such as “preserving the AED’s self-test data,” may not be so obvious.

AED Total Cost of Ownership (TCO)-The total cost of buying a new, functional, FDA-approved AED unit, in full PLUS the cost of any accessories the AED may require to remain operable over a duration of time. All AEDs sold in the U.S. come equipped with a battery and adult electrode pads since they are necessary components to use the AED during an emergency. However, AED batteries and electrode pads (also referred to as “AED disposables”) expire over time and therefore must be replaced periodically. The interval of time each AED disposable item lasts prior to requiring replacement varies from one AED model to the next.

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