Defibrillation refers to the process of restoring normal heart rhythm in the event of cardiac arrest via the application of an electric shock. During a heart attack, the heart is unable to maintain regular rhythm and begins to convulse, disrupting the flow of oxygenated blood to the brain and organs. Defibrillation is the only known means of cardiopulmonary resuscitation (resetting the heart); and without it, the risk of death increases by 10% as each minute passes by.
The defibrillator we know of today is a modernized version of the original invented in the 1930s. A box with two paddles on long cables, each of which are placed on a patient’s bare chest, the defib unit is one of the greatest inventions ever, dramatically increasing life expectancy in all countries where it is used. As a result, first responders such as paramedics and police officers now carry an automated external defibrillator (AED) as standard kit, and it is becoming much more common to see portable defibrillators at private workplaces, government offices, malls, and in sports and transport hubs. Printed with clear instructions in many languages, these kind of units are operable by almost anyone with even rudimentary CPR training.