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If you suffer a heart attack in a public place, an AED may be the best chance of saving your life. But, what if the AED has no batteries?

A new study of 1,150 deaths related to AED failure has found than almost one-quarter of these deaths are caused by battery problems. The study conducted by researchers at the University of Arizona was published in the Annals of Emergency Medicine.

Dr. Lawrence A. DeLuca and his team looked at reports of 41,000 adverse events reported in AEDs over the past 15 years. While battery problems were a leading cause of AED failure, problems with wiring and pads were of equal concern.

Causes of AED Failure:

  • Battery/power failure: 23.2%
  • Pad or connector problems: 23.7%

The study was inspired by DeLuca’s own experience. He was on vacation at a resort when another guest went into cardiac arrest. DeLuca grabbed the AED and tried to administer rescue shocks. However, as soon as the machine started to charge, it went dead. Although the doctors ran to get another AED, it was too late. The man died. DeLuca, a professor of emergency medicine, blames AED battery failure.

Quick treatment with an AED is essential for surviving cardiac arrest; the likelihood of restarting the heart by 7 percent to 10 percent every minute increases. AEDs and their batteries should be checked regularly to ensure that they are in working order in the event of an emergency.

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