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April 02, 2008

A LOOK AT AUTOMATED EXTERNAL DEFIBRILLATORS in public places. They really should be ubiquitous, and I'm actually kind of disappointed that my gym doesn't have one. I even thought about buying one of these for home, but since the Insta-Wife has one built-in it didn't seem like a good deal. Meanwhile, note that they're now recommending hands-only CPR for situations when AEDs aren't available. But AEDs are much better than CPR.

UPDATE: Or maybe not. Here's a study saying that home defibrillators don't help: "The study, which included more than 7,000 patients at risk of having the seizures because of previous heart attacks, found that patients in homes equipped with the gear died at the same rate as those without it." On the other hand, part of this may be because so few people need 'em to begin with: "Four of 14 patients whom the HeartStart deemed in need of a shock, and who then were given it, survived, according to the researchers. But the numbers were too small to be statistically significant." And here's why built-in is better: "More than half of the incidents occurred when no one was around to witness them, suggesting a possible market for better alert systems."

ANOTHER UPDATE: On the other hand, Ed Cone writes: "Thanks for the post on AEDs – one saved the life of my daughter’s classmate last month." He sends this news report:

Chris is a 14-year-old eighth-grader at Greensboro Day School with no history of medical problems. On March 3 , he was playing Battle Ball , a form of dodgeball, in the school gym. As he stepped behind some rolled-up wrestling mats, he collapsed against the wall and slid to the floor.

His heart had gone into an irregular rhythm — one that couldn't keep him alive. He had no pulse. He wasn't breathing. . . .

One of the AEDs was in a coaches' office just off the gym where Chris lay. The school's nurse, Linda Sudnik; its director of sports medicine, Jon Schner; and assistant trainer Mike Gale were moments away.

After students alerted them, Sudnik and Schner arrived and began rescue breathing and chest compressions. When Gale brought the device to the gym, they used it to shock Chris's heart. The shock didn't return Chris's heartbeat to normal, Schner said, but it did create a better rhythm, one that could sustain life.

By the time an ambulance arrived, Chris had a pulse and was breathing on his own again.

And here's a blog report on the story, too.