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Commonly Used Cardiac Terms - A Glossary

Automated external defibrillators (AEDs) are portable devices containing sophisticated, computerized electronics to monitor and identify cardiac rhythm, which make it possible for lay rescuers to deliver defibrillation with little training. The AED will only permit the operator to deliver the shock if ventricular fibrillation or certain ventricular tachycardias are detected. The new AED's are safe, effective, lightweight, low maintenance, easy to use and relatively inexpensive (the MomsTeam-approved defibtech Lifeline AED available through the MomsTeam AED Store starts at just $1,495.00, considerably less than most other models.

Electrocardiogram (EKG/ECG): A graphical representation of electrical impulses produced by the heart.

Emergency Medical Services (EMS): The organization providing emergency medical care to a community's citizens. An EMS system may include a notification system (e.g., 911), paramedics, EMTs (emergency medical technicians) and fire, police or ambulance personnel.

Emergency Medical Technician (EMT): A medical professional certified in basic emergency care, typically after having received approximately 110 hours of training. An EMT provides basic life support with techniques including CPR and defibrillation with an AED.

External Defibrillation: Defibrillation current delivered to the heart by means of electrodes attached to the chest.

Good Samaritan Laws: Laws granting limited protection to persons who, in good faith, give first aid or emergency assistance at the scene of an accident. All 50 states have enacted Good Samaritan laws to protect citizens that provide emergency medical assistance to victims of Sudden Cardiac Arrest with the use of a defibrillator. For a state-by-state listing of laws click here.

Heart Attack: Sudden death of a portion of the heart muscle caused by a sudden decrease in blood supply to that area. A heart attack is also referred to as a myocardial infarction or "MI." A heart attack may lead to Sudden Cardiac Arrest but the symptoms, causes and treatment are different.

Monophasic Waveform: Pattern of electrical flow where the current, throughout the pulse, flows in one direction, from one electrode pad, through the heart to the other electrode pad.

Paramedic: A medical professional trained to evaluate and provide treatment for a wide variety of medical emergencies. A paramedic initially receives between 800 and 2,000 hours of training and is qualified to treat Sudden Cardiac Arrest with defibrillation and Advanced Cardiac Life Support.

Public Access Defibrillation: Public access to timely defibrillation through the widespread deployment of defibrillators in public places.

Sudden Cardiac Arrest (SCA): Precipitous loss of effective pulse and blood pressure usually due to cardiac arrhythmia, primarily ventricular fibrillation.

Sudden Cardiac Death (SCD): Death resulting from an abrupt loss of heart function (cardiac arrest). According to the American Heart Association, over 250,000 people die each year from cardiac arrest. Cardiac arrest patients aretwice as likely to survive in places where defibrillators are publicly available and volunteers have been trained to use them.

Ventricular Fibrillation: A chaotic arrhythmia that causes the heart to quiver rather than contract in a coordinated fashion. A victim in VF has no effective pulse or blood pressure, loses consciousness almost immediately. Death follows within minutes if a normal heart rhythm is not restored through defibrillation.

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