What’s the difference between a standard defibrillator and an AED?

There are many differences between an AED and a “standard” defibrillator such as the  LIFEPAK 15. These are Advanced Life Support or “ALS” defibrillators, which are used by healthcare professionals in hospitals and ambulances. These devices allow professionals to monitor the patient rhythm and manually intervene if it is determined that a shock is required. In addition, most of these units offer an Advisory or AED function in which waveform analysis and shock recommendations are made based upon sophisticated algorithms contained within the device. ALS units can be used with either paddles or electrode pads. ALS defibrillators are meant for use by trained medical professionals only.

AEDs are considered a public access device designed to be used by anyone, whether they are trained or not. The device walks the user through the rescue until EMS arrives or the person is revived. It analyzes the heart rhythm every two minutes to determine if a shock is needed.  It will not shock unless it detects a shockable rhythm, no matter how many times you press the shock button. It uses disposable adhesive electrode pads that deliver shocks at a set level of energy (measured in joules). Some AEDs use escalating energy (higher joules) for additional shocks on the same victim.

One Response to “What’s the difference between a standard defibrillator and an AED?”

December 12, 2019 at 8:24 am, Tyson Coolidge said:

It’s good to know that AEDs are considered public access devices that anyone can use. My brother has been telling me about how a friend of his has been having some heart problems recently, and he wants to be prepared for anything that could happen. I’ll share this information with him so that he can look into his options for AEDs that can help with this.


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