Question: What is a defibrillator and how is it used in the emergency room?
Answer: A defibrillator is a device that delivers an electric shock to the heart. When the heart is having ventricular fibrillation -- that rapid heartbeat that does not produce blood going to the brain or other organs -- that has to be stopped immediately. And we know for many, many years that a shock delivered to the heart itself can stop the ventricular fibrillation. So that is then delivered -- and I'm sure most people have seen on ER or some other TV program -- delivered through the skin with electrodes on the chest, then to the heart.
And we have what's called an automated external defibrillator, the things that you see in airports for example, that will read the heart rhythm and instruct an individual as to whether a shock should be delivered or not. These are very accurate devices, very safe to use, and have saved many, many lives.
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