Defibrillation is the provision of targeted electrical shocks to a patient to reactivate normal heart activity. Defibrillation is necessary when life-threatening arrhythmias of the heart or ventricular fibrillation occur. By using a defibrillator, changes in the heart rhythm can be readjusted. It is applied via two electrodes that are placed on the patient’s chest. This is followed by an electric shock, which is used for resuscitation.
External defibrillators are often placed in public places for emergency situations. Their use poses no risk – neither to the patient nor to the first responder – as the defibrillator only initiates an electric shock when a need is detected via the electrodes.
People with chronic heart rhythm disorders receive an implantable defibrillator on the advice of their doctor. This ensures the regularity of the heartbeat by means of electrical impulses.