Features August 2008 Issue

Home Defibrillators May Save Lives, but Aren’t for Everyone

AEDs provide reassurance, but CPR may be just as effective.

If you’re at high risk of a heart attack, you might feel better having a home version of the automatic external defibrillator (AED) used by hospitals and paramedics. The American Heart Association says they can be a good investment, especially if you live in an area where swift emergency response is unlikely. However, they’re also expensive—and they may not work in every case, cautions Bruce Wilkoff, MD, director of Cardiac Pacing and Tachyarrhythmia Devices at Cleveland Clinic. "An AED works for a specific issue—sudden cardiac arrest by ventricular tachycardia or fibrillation—which can be confused with other devastating events, such as a heart attack, stroke or aneurysm," he explains.

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