Using an AED on Someone with a Pacemaker

Automated External Defibrillators (AEDs) are life-saving devices designed to deliver an electric shock to the heart in cases of sudden cardiac arrest (SCA) to restore normal heart rhythm. When it comes to using an AED on someone with a pacemaker, there are some important considerations to keep in mind.

Pacemakers and Their Function

A pacemaker is a medical device implanted under the skin, usually in the chest area, to help regulate abnormal heart rhythms. It does this by sending electrical impulses to the heart muscles, ensuring that the heart beats at a consistent rate and rhythm. Pacemakers are typically used to treat conditions such as bradycardia (slow heart rate) and certain types of arrhythmias.

Using an AED with a Pacemaker

When responding to a cardiac arrest situation and considering the use of an AED on someone with a pacemaker, here are key points to consider:

  1. Assess the Situation: Begin by assessing the victim's condition and responsiveness. If the victim is unresponsive and not breathing normally, you should start CPR and call for emergency medical help immediately.
  2. Apply the AED: If an AED is available, apply it to the victim's chest following the AED's instructions. The AED will analyze the victim's heart rhythm and determine whether a shock is necessary.
  3. AED Analysis: Modern AEDs are designed to analyze the victim's heart rhythm before delivering a shock. They are programmed to recognize shockable and non-shockable rhythms. If the victim has a pacemaker and is experiencing a shockable rhythm (such as ventricular fibrillation or pulseless ventricular tachycardia), the AED may recommend a shock.
  4. AED Shock Delivery: If the AED recommends a shock, follow its instructions and deliver the shock as directed. The shock from the AED is delivered to the entire chest area, including the heart and the pacemaker.
  5. CPR and Chest Compressions: Continue CPR after delivering the shock, if necessary. High-quality chest compressions are essential for blood circulation, which helps the heart and pacemaker function effectively.
  6. Monitor the Victim: If the victim has a pacemaker, pay attention to their response to the shock and monitor their condition until emergency medical personnel arrive.

Special Considerations

It's important to note that while AEDs are safe and effective tools for treating cardiac arrest in individuals with pacemakers, there are some special considerations:

  • Follow AED Instructions: Always follow the instructions provided by the AED. Modern AEDs are designed to evaluate the victim's heart rhythm accurately.
  • Do Not Remove the Pacemaker: Do not attempt to remove or disable the pacemaker. Leave it in place.
  • Electrode Placement: Ensure that the AED electrodes are placed correctly on the victim's chest, following the AED's visual or auditory prompts.
  • Communication: If you are aware that the victim has a pacemaker, inform emergency medical personnel when they arrive to provide them with relevant information.

In summary, AEDs can be used on individuals with pacemakers if they experience sudden cardiac arrest. The AED will assess the heart rhythm and recommend a shock if necessary. Always follow the AED's instructions, and continue CPR as needed to provide the best chance of survival until professional medical help arrives.

 CPR + First Aid Certification

Back to blog

Previous Blog Post

Can You Use an AED in Water?