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Glossary of Terms

Glossary of Terms for AED Equipment

If you're new to the AED world, you've undoubtedly noticed a few unfamiliar terms. Here you will find terms you are likely to come across when looking to buy an AED, or discussing AED-related health concerns.

What is an ablation?

A technique used to remove troublesome cardiac tissue, or at least minimize tissue activity.
What is an automated external defibrillator?

A portable electronic device that analyzes and diagnoses arrhythmias in the heart, and then treats the patient by defibrillation (if needed), which is the process of applying electrical current to stop the arrhythmia and reestablish a normal heartbeat.
What is an AED?

An acornym for "automated external defibrillator"; it is used more commonly than the full term it abbreviates.
What is an algorithm?

A set of rules. In AEDs; this refers to the specific rules and programming that makes the AED function.
What is an arrhythmia?

A heartbeat that is considered abnormal or out of synchronization with itself.
What is an asystole?

The total lack of a cardiac activity; absence of a heartbeat. This is often referred to as a "flat line" due to its visual representation on an EKG.
What is an atrium?

Each half of the heart has an upper chamber. Each chamber is referred to as an atrium.
What is basic life support?
Umbrella term that describes the basic treatment plans provided to a patient including CPR.
What is cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR)?
A set of emergency medical practices implemented to restore normal airflow and heartbeat in a first-aid / emergency situation.
What is defibrillation?
The application of electrical therapy, used to reestablish a normal heart beat in emergency situations.
What is a defibrillator?

The actual equipment or device used during defibrillation (see above).
What is an electrocardiogram (ECG or EKG)?
A test capable of analyzing the electrical activity in the heart. The data is measured, recorded, and often displayed visually on a peripheral display.
What are electrode pads?
An electrode is a medium that conducts electricity from a metallic device to a nonmetallic device. In AEDs, the electrode pads are small circular pads that are the last point of contact before the current enters the human body.
What is an EMS?
An acronym of emergency medical service, which would include services like ambulances and firefighters.
What is an EMT?

An acronym of emergency medical technician, EMTs are rescue professionals who have been certified and train to deliver medical services in emergency situations.
What is fibrillation?
Fibrillation is a rapid twitching of the heart muscles, caused by a number of factors. There are different types of fibrillation, including atrial and ventricular. Ventricular fibrillation can be deadly if not alleviated by the use of a defibrillator.
What does it mean to flutter?
Flutter is a term used to describe the organized vibrations that can occur in the heart muscle. Atrial flutters, for example, can be especially problematic as they lead to extremely fast heartbeats.
What is a fully automatic AED?
An AED that does not require input from the user to deliver the electric shock. Once the device makes the determination that electric shock is warranted, it will produce an audible warning to bystanders to step away from the machine and then will deliver the shock, as opposed to some systems that require someone to manually press a button to deliver the electric shock.
What are good Samaritan laws?
Good Samaritan laws are in place in many jurisdictions to minimize the liabilities of companies and people who respond in emergency situations. These legislations are put into place to encourage people to respond in a life or death situation without having to be concerned with any potential legal ramifications of their actions (or lack thereof).
What is a heart attack?
Colloquial term for myocardial infarction.
What is a heart rate?
The ratio of heartbeats compared to time. Average resting adult heart rates range from 60-100 beats per minute (BPM).
What are joules?
A unit used to measure electrical energy and work output. AED manufacturers use the joule to rate their devices electric output.
What is a lead?
An electricity conducting wire used in electrical applications. AEDs utilize a lead to connect the defibrillator to the electrode pads attached to the patient.
What is a myocardial Infarction?
The scientific term for a heart attack. Blockage of the coronary artery leads to a lack of blood supply to the heart, which is colloquially referred to as a heart attack.
What is a pacemaker?
A medical device that is implanted under the skin that delivers electric current to the heart to maintain a constant heartbeat.
What is a palpitation?
A rapid or fluttering or beating of the heart. Many things can cause heart palpitations, including stress, medications, or exercise.
What is a semi-automatic AED?
Contrary to the fully-automatic AED (see above), these types of defibrillators will determine if electric shock is needed, but will not deliver the actual shock until manually informed by a human being, typically by the pressing of a button.
What is a sudden cardiac arrest (SCA)?
The sudden and unexpected loss of heart functionality. SCA will result in death if not treated by a defibrillator.
What is a sudden cardiac death (SCD)?
Death as a result of sudden cardiac arrest.
What is tachycardia?
Extremely quick heart rate, over 100 beats per minute and sometimes much faster.
What is ventricular fibrillation?
The most common cause of sudden cardiac arrest, ventricular fibrillation is an unexpected and deadly type of arrhythmia that results in fluttering of the ventricles and the inability to continue blood pumping. Ventricular fibrillation is deadly unless treated by a defibrillator.