The FDA now allows you to buy one kind of home defibrillator without a prescription. Wondering what you should know before you consider buying one?

We know: All About Home Defibrillators

What's a Home Defibrillator?

Home defibrillators are portable medical devices that can be used to shock a heart back into rhythm when someone suffers cardiac arrest. Unlike a heart attack, cardiac arrest is an abnormal heart rhythm that can be fatal. A defibrillator delivers a jolt of electricity that can shock the heart back into its proper rhythm.

Home defibrillators are also called Automated External Defibrillators or AEDs.

How common is sudden cardiac arrest?

Sudden cardiac can be the first indicator of heart disease and results in nearly 350,000 deaths each year.

When a shock from a defibrillator is administered within the first 5 minutes of cardiac arrest, about 50% of victims survive. If the shock is delivered after ten minutes, only about 1% survive.

Do I need a prescription to buy a defibrillator?

In September 2004, the Food and Drug Administration approved the Philips HeartStart model defibrillator for over -the -counter sale without a prescription. Other AEDs require a prescription from a doctor.

How much does a home defibrillator cost?

Between $1,000 and $2000.

What should I know before I buy one?

Because defibrillators are regulated by the Federal Drug Administration (FDA) , there should be no difference between the performance of the devices by various manufacturers. What you will find is different sizes, designs and support services.

What features should I look for?

Two features you might find helpful are a model with voice instructions, telling you how to use the machine step-by-step, and a model that senses the heart's rhythm and only delivers a shock when it detects an irregular rhythm.

Also, biphasic machines use less power than monophasic machines and are, therefore, potentially less damaging to the heart.

Who makes defibrillators?

Here are some brand names and manufacturers: Zoll, Jumpstart and LifeQuest from MRL, Heartstart from Phillips, Burdick, Medtronic, Lifepak, Samaritan.

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