Fact or Fiction? A Defibrillator Restarts a “Flat-Lined” Heart

Actually, this one is FICTION. A defibrillator will not get a “flat- lined” heart going again. The clue is in the name. A defibrillator is designed to stop a heart fibrillating, or quivering.

How Does It Help?

During Cardiac Arrest, the heart may go into a condition known as Ventricular Fibrillation (VF). This is where one or two of the heart’s ventricles (lower chambers) stop contracting normally and begin fibrillating, or vobrating. This results in blood not being squeezed out of the heart to the lungs and/or body.

A defibrillator is designed to STOP a ventricle from fibrillating. Rather than restarting the heart, a shock from the defibrillator results in a heart that is no longer fibrillating – nor beating at all for that matter!

How Does The Heart Restart?

The heart has it’s own “pacemakers” known as a nodes. Under normal conditions, the nodes send electrical impulses into the atria and ventricles causing the chambers to contract and squeeze blood out of the heart. After the fibrillating heart has been stopped by a shock from the defibrillator the nodes will (hopefully) restore the heart’s natural rhythm the next time they fire.