My Defibrillator Kept Firing Several Times In A Stretch. Is There Something Wrong With It?

Question: My defibrillator kept firing several times in a stretch. Is there something wrong with it?

Answer :If your defibrillator fires more than once in close succession, that's a problem and it merits urgent medical attention. One of two major possibilities could have occurred. One is that you had an arrhythmia that occurred, was broken by the device and then reoccurred. The other possibility is that the device shocked perhaps appropriately but didn't convert your heart rhythm on the first shock and only succeeded on the second. So, anytime more than one shock has occurred over a short period, I consider that an urgent situation.

Now, there are times when there are multiple shocks in a row and these may occur during, say, another non-lethal heart rhythm where not only is the device going off but the patient may be more awake during the shocks and then it can cause a fair amount of discomfort. We do everything we can to minimize the likelihood of this by setting the rate cutoff at a rate such that we're hoping that you're heart rate won't reach those higher rate cutoffs unless you're in a lethal arrhythmia.

Having multiple shocks can really be stressful and as such, we try to minimize that because there's a significant psychological effect of going through this and feeling a multiple shock situation. That's really fairly uncommon, however. So, the bottom line is any time there's more than one shock at a stretch, your doctor really should have the opportunity to evaluate why the device went off and see what can be done to adjust either the device or your medications to minimize the likelihood of recurring shocks occurring all at one time.