Defibrillators Who Needs Defibrillators


Defibrillators can be used in children, teens, and adults. AEDs are used to treat cardiac arrest. Your doctor may recommend an ICD or WCD to treat an arrhythmia and prevent new or repeat cardiac arrests.

Who needs an AED?

AEDs can save the life of someone having cardiac arrest, when the heart suddenly and unexpectedly stops beating.

AEDs can be used for adults, as well as for children as young as 1 year old. Some devices have pads and cables sized especially for children.

Doing cardiopulmonary resuscitation, or CPR, on someone having cardiac arrest also can improve his or her chance of survival. Learn about using an AED in an emergency.

Who needs an ICD?

ICDs can correct a dangerous arrhythmia or keep an irregular heartbeat from causing cardiac arrest. Life-threatening arrhythmias can develop for many reasons and can affect people of any age, from newborns to older adults. Your doctor may recommend an ICD if you have a type of arrhythmia that causes your heart’s ventricles to shake instead of pumping blood. This type of arrhythmia is most likely to cause cardiac arrest.

If you have the following conditions, you may be at risk for a life-threatening arrhythmia and your doctor may recommend an ICD:

  • You survived cardiac arrest.
  • You developed an arrhythmia during or after treatment for a heart attack.
  • You have a condition passed down from your parents that causes arrhythmia. This includes having congenital heart disease or an inherited conduction disorder.
  • You have a neuromuscular disorder. For example, the progression of muscular dystrophy can damage the heart and cause unpredictable heart rhythms. This can lead to unexplained fainting and a high risk of death.
  • You have an abnormally slow heart rate or other problem with the heart’s electrical signals.
  • You have cardiac sarcoidosis.
  • You have poor heart function following a procedure to improve blood flow.
  • Your doctor detected an arrhythmia during an electrocardiogram (EKG) or stress test. If this happened several times, you may be at increased risk.

Who needs a WCD?

WCDs are used to protect against cardiac arrest in certain circumstances, such as if you are at risk of arrhythmia for just a short time. This might occur under these conditions:

  • You are recovering from a heart attack.
  • You are waiting for a heart transplant.
  • You are fighting an infection.
  • You are removing or waiting to replace your ICD.
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