Shocking Flatlined Patients
It is a popular trope on medical shows, isn’t it? When a person’s heart stops beating, we clearly need to do something. It’s time to bring out the paddles or grab the nearest AED. This patient cannot die on us, we won’t let them. The heart isn’t beating, shock them more and more and more!! Oh wait, that’s not how medical science tells us to do things at all. Why? Because that is not how defibrillation works. We usually only use any form of shock or defibrillation when we’re trying to get a heart back to its correct heart rhythm. Fibrillation, or usually, in this case, atrial fibrillation, is one reason medical professionals will use these things.
This is an issue where the heart’s upper chambers (or the atria) are beating irregularly, often in a chaotic form. They will be out of sync with the lower chambers, also known as the ventricles. That can be an issue where one needs to get their heart rhythm back on track. A-fib will cause fast, pounding heartbeats, shortness of breath, and even weakness. When one goes into cardiac arrest, a similar issue happens. The most common reason for cardiac arrest is ventricular fibrillation, which is similar to the atrial version. The ventricles can also stop working suddenly too. This type of thing might also occur during drowning situations too. That is why we administer CPR and obviously why we use a defibrillator. They are not used for every single purpose imaginable.