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new cool best high technology gadgets gift Philips HeartStartIt’s not something the instructors usually talk about, but while doing CPR on a person whose heart has stopped beating is better than doing nothing, it’s only slightly better. Performing CPR is far from a sure-thing were patient survival is concerned. Fortunately, we have a relatively new tool that really does put the power to save a life into anyone’s hands. And now it’s so affordable it’s being advertised on TV!

Just a few weeks ago, a friend and her sister (in her 50′s) were visiting an amusement park in Pennsylvania. They were minding their own business, seeing the sights, when the sister suffered a sudden cardiac arrest. Her heart stopped beating, she stopped breathing, and started turning blue. She had not been previously diagnosed with a heart problem.

Fortunately, the park had installed Automated External Defibrillators (AEDs) for public use. My friend remembered seeing one and sent her daughter to grab it as she began performing CPR on her sister and someone ran to call 911.

Less than 3 minutes later–and long before paramedics arrived–my friend used the AED to literally shock her sister back to life. The sister was taken to the hospital, surgery was performed, and is now recovering. There is no doubt in my friend’s mind that the AED saved her sister’s life. Given a lengthy EMS response time inside the park, I have no doubt she’s right.

I won’t cite all the numbers, but if you can get an AED attached to the patient quickly enough, their chances of survival are tremendously enhanced over CPR alone. There are estimates that if AEDs were more widely available, as many as 40,000 lives might be saved each year.

What does this have to do with Gearlog? Well, an AED is now being marketed as the latest tool for the well-prepared home. Philips has begun advertising its HeartStart AED on television, where it recently caught my attention. It sells for $1,495, but they will finance it for $69-a-month. Or you can buy it at Walgreens.com for $1,295. The HeartStart is so reliable and easy-to-use (yes, even by you) that it is the only AED available without a doctor’s prescription. Medicare will pay for an AED for some patients.

As an Emergency Medical Technician and CPR/AED instructor, I can tell you that AEDs are the greatest advance, perhaps ever, in citizen lifesaving. Prices are coming down and the equipment is now available to anyone who might be able to use it. I am recommending the HeartStart to friends and loved ones with a history of heart disease or who have been told they are likely to develop it. (Which would include myself, now that I think about it).

Nearly 25 years ago, my mother, Patsy Coursey, suffered cardiac arrest just after awakening one morning. She was in her 50′s and had a hereditary heart defect (of a type now repaired in utero). Despite my best CPR efforts and Dallas’ then-excellent EMS service, my mother died. AEDs did not exist then and I am not saying having one would have saved her–who knows? But, if she were alive today, I am sure of one thing: There would be an AED in the house. 

AEDs belong in all public places, most offices, and many homes. They’re an excellent investment for life.

(TRIVIA FACT: You know how on TV they use a defibrillator when a patient goes “flat line” on the cardiac monitor? In reality, that’s when  a defibrillator is NEVER used. Why? Because a defibrillator is useful only when the heart is still active, though unable to effectively pump blood around the body. In this circumstance, the electrical current from the defibrillator is used to briefly stop the heart in hopes a more normal rhythm will return. AEDs detect the ineffective cardiac rhythms and automatically deliver one or more shock in an attempt to convert the rhythm to one that will actually pump blood.)


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