What is a Home Defibrillator?

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  • Written By: Gregg Miller
  • Edited By: A. Joseph
  • Last Modified Date: 31 August 2019
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A home defibrillator is an electronic device that can be used to restore the heart's natural rhythm after a cardiac episode. It is designed to be used by people with little or no medical background, and it provides simple instructions on how it should be used in an emergency. The home defibrillator is specifically recommended for homes occupied by persons with a history of cardiac disease. It is also frequently found in businesses and public places where cardiac arrest may occur.

Commonly referred to as an automatic external defibrillator (AED), home defibrillators have become increasingly more present in homes and public places. Cardiac arrest must be treated within the first five minutes to provide the greatest opportunity for survival. The widespread installation of home defibrillators could preserve the lives of thousands people who otherwise would not survive.

Most heart attacks happen in the home, and with an average of about 1,000 people a day dying because of cardiac arrest, a home defibrillator can make the difference between life and death for many people. Presently, the most common form of intervention during a heart attack is cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR). CPR and the use of a home defibrillator are not mutually exclusive. In fact, they are complementary. For those first responders who don’t know CPR, most defibrillators include audible instructions on how to perform CPR in addition to how to use the defibrillator.


The home defibrillator is designed so that is can be used by a complete novice. It includes written instructions and pictures showing how to position and attach it, and many units have audible instructions that direct the user how to use it, step by step. After it is attached to the patient, it monitors the heart's rhythm and either automatically produces the necessary charge to restore natural function or directs the user to take the actions. One of the more common directions is to call for emergency services, because the home defibrillator is recognized as only a stopgap measure to prolong life until properly trained medical personnel arrive.

The average cost of a home defibrillator is $1,300 US Dollars. Some models are sold over the counter, and others require a prescription from a doctor. There is some debate about the overall effectiveness of the home defibrillator versus CPR, and survival rates using both methods appears to be equal. Unlike CPR, however, the home defibrillator doesn't require training in order to be employed, and it still provides similar results overall.



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