Few Homes Have Defibrillators. Is It Time to Change That?

Gina Kolata of the 'New York Times' explores the topic, noting price is one big factor
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 15, 2023 9:40 AM CDT
Few Homes Have Defibrillators. Is It Time to Change That?
Stock image of a defibrillator.   (Getty / Renewer)

Lots of people would be able to find a fire extinguisher in their house to ward off catastrophe. But a defibrillator? Not so much, notes Gina Kolata in the New York Times. The journalist writes that she ordered one for her own home after reporting about the near-death of the NFL's Damar Hamlin. After all, defibrillators are so useful in saving lives by shocking a heart back into action that all states require them for public places such as schools and airports. What's more, they're relatively easy to use after minimal training—and the devices can even speak to users to guide a novice through the right steps anyway. So why aren't they more common in everyday homes? One big reason is expense.

Figure on spending at least $1,000, notes Kolata. Less expensive ones are in development, but they will remain pricey for the near future. For the record, the American Heart Association is all in favor of people having an automated external defibrillator (AED) in the home. "If we could just reduce the stigma around, 'Hey, I can’t do this because I’m not a medical professional,'" says Dr. Comilla Sasson, an AHA vice president. "And you don’t need to have CPR certification to use an AED."

However, some doctors are less enthusiastic, citing a lack of data to support widespread home use. What's more, "AEDs can resuscitate people only with a specific type of irregular heart rhythm," explains the Mayo Clinic in a guide to the topic. Its bottom-line advice for people considering a purchase: They should talk to their doctor. It may make the most sense for households that include someone at high risk. (More defibrillator stories.)

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