5 Myths About CPR and AEDs Debunked


When it comes to CPR and AEDs, some serious misconceptions need to be debunked. We’ve all heard different kinds of CPR facts, but how much of that is true? Is it true that CPR saves lives? Or is this one of the CPR myths? Practical application has proved that to be true, but others, not so much.

According to the Centers for Disease Prevention, out of 10 people who suffer a sudden cardiac arrest in an out-of-hospital setting, 9 lose their lives. Although these statements are facts, there are also a lot of CPR myths that do more harm than good.

Along with CPR, there are a lot of AED misconceptions, too. Automated external defibrillators (AEDs) are crucial in saving lives during cardiac emergencies, as does cardiopulmonary resuscitation.

Unfortunately, common CPR misconceptions and AED myths affect people’s understanding of these life-saving techniques and hinder their willingness to act. Keep on reading to see common CPR myths debunked and AED misconceptions clarified.

Myth 1: CPR Is Only Effective When Done by Professionals

CPR performed by anyone, even bystanders with minimal training, can greatly enhance the odds of survival for someone experiencing cardiac arrest. Immediate CPR, especially chest compressions, supports the blood flow and oxygen circulation until a professional medical team arrives.

Studies show that early intervention by bystanders can have a profound impact, doubling or even tripling the survival rate of individuals experiencing cardiac arrest. So, regardless of whether an EMT or a bystander on the street performs CPR, the survival odds increase, and the victim is more likely to make it to the hospital in time.

Myth 2: Mouth-to-Mouth Resuscitation Is Always Required in CPR

Hands-only CPR focuses solely on chest compressions without rescue breaths and is a recognized and effective technique. Hands-only CPR is particularly recommended for individuals who are untrained or uncomfortable with performing mouth-to-mouth resuscitation or people concerned about CPR safety regarding their health.

The emphasis is on continuous, uninterrupted 100-120 chest compressions a minute. The rescuer should go on providing cardiac massage until professional help arrives or an AED becomes available.

So, the bottom line is that rescue breaths are not always required to resuscitate a person, and this is one of the CPR myths that should go down in history as false.

Myth 3: AEDs Can Harm a Person Who Doesn’t Need an Electric Shock

AEDs are designed to analyze a person’s heart rhythm and deliver a shock only if it detects a specific type of life-threatening arrhythmia, such as ventricular fibrillation. These devices are equipped with advanced algorithms and safety features that prevent them from delivering shocks unless necessary.

Automated voice prompts and visual instructions guide users through the process, ensuring safe and effective use, even by untrained individuals. Whoever is operating the device will be prompted with every action the AED will perform before it does.

AEDs are equipped with both visual and audio prompts and will not deliver a jolt to the heart unless calculated as necessary.

Myth 4: You Can Accidentally Shock Yourself or Others with an AED

AEDs are designed to deliver shocks only when electrodes are correctly attached to a person’s bare chest. They have a built-in safety mechanism that analyzes the heart rhythm and delivers the appropriate treatment and electric shock precisely when needed.

Modern AEDs are designed to prevent accidental shocks to bystanders or users. Following the visual and audio instructions provided by the AED ensures safe operation.

Myth 5: CPR and AEDs are Only Effective in Younger Individuals

CPR and AEDs are effective in saving lives regardless of the victim’s age, including older adults. While the underlying causes of cardiac arrest may differ, prompt intervention with CPR and early defibrillation can significantly improve outcomes for individuals of all ages.

CPR helps maintain blood circulation, while AEDs deliver precisely measured electric shocks to restore the heart’s natural rhythm. Acting fast and confidently is essential, regardless of the age of the cardiac arrest victim.

Other Common CPR- and AED-Related Misconceptions

Learning CPR Is Expensive

A common CPR myth among people today is that the cost of CPR classes is extremely high, which is actually not true. Admittedly, some CPR classes cost more than others, but generally, CPR classes are very affordable. Their cost mainly depends on the type of the class, whether it’s fully online, in a classroom, or through a blended learning model.

A Defibrillator Is Necessary For CPR

Other untrue CPR and AED facts revolve around the belief that you need to use an AED while performing CPR. Even though a defibrillator can save the life of an SCA victim, the device isn’t always necessary in CPR.

An AED is redundant in CPR as long as someone is performing chest compression at the right pace and depth.

CPR Requires Extensive Medical Training

Here’s another common CPR misconception leading people to believe that CPR takes forever to learn. Extensive medical training is not required for a regular person to be able to perform CPR.

Medical professionals aren’t the only ones that can perform CPR. In fact, anyone can learn how to do chest compressions by enrolling in a CPR class, online or in person. The basics of CPR include compressions to the chest and rescue breaths (not always).

Chest compressions are needed because they push oxygenated blood to the brain and other vital organs in the body, while rescue breaths fill the lungs with air.

You Can Only Use an AED Once

This might not be one of the most common AED misconceptions, but it’s something that a lot of people believe. What makes this myth a bust is that a modern AED is built to last and, if properly maintained, can last a very long time.

AED effectiveness isn’t linked to the times it’s used; With the right servicing, AEDs can be used up to 100 times, i.e., deliver up to 100 shocks.

Key Takeaway: 5 Myths About CPR and AEDs Debunked

Demystifying common CPR and AED myths helps with raising CPR and AED awareness and clears the air around CPR and AED truths all of us should know. Knowing what’s right and what’s a myth helps laypeople believe in their life-saving capabilities and shed any stigmas surrounding using CPR on strangers.

Whether talking about hands-only CPR or conventional CPR, both variations save lives, and that’s the bottom line. Granted, hands-only CPR is more straightforward and doesn’t include mouth-to-mouth, while traditional CPR does include rescue breaths when absolutely needed.

In addition, AEDs are totally safe for use by the aid provider and the SCA victim. These medical devices are designed to deliver an electrical shock to the heart only when needed, so there’s no room for panic about mishandling the AED.

Both CPR and AEDs are life-saving techniques that are effective across all age groups. By debunking these myths, we can empower individuals to take immediate action, potentially saving lives and making a significant impact on cardiac arrest outcomes.

FAQs About CPR and AEDs

When should CPR be performed?

CPR should be initiated immediately when an individual is not breathing normally, has an absent pulse, and is not responsive. The quicker CPR is initiated, the higher the chances of a positive outcome for someone experiencing a SCA.

What is hands-only CPR?

Hands-only CPR is a simplified form of CPR that focuses only on continuous chest compressions. It is recommended for individuals who are untrained or uncomfortable with performing mouth-to-mouth resuscitation. The emphasis is on providing uninterrupted compressions at a rate of 100-120 per minute.

Are rescue breaths necessary in CPR?

Hands-only CPR without rescue breaths is still effective in providing circulation and oxygenation during cardiac arrest. Performing hands-only CPR can be a significant contribution that could potentially save a life in an emergency.

What is an AED?

An automated external defibrillator (AED) is a portable device that rescuers or EMTs use to provide an electric shock to the heart in cases of SCA. AEDs are specifically designed to be user-friendly for trained and untrained individuals. They are equipped with a program utilizing voice prompts and visual instructions to guide the rescuer through the process.

How does an AED work?

When an AED is applied to a person in cardiac arrest, it analyzes the heart rhythm to detect if they need an electric shock. If an arrhythmia, such as ventricular fibrillation, is identified, the AED takes action, prompting the rescuer to provide an electric shock that will re-establish the heart rhythm. It is important to follow the AED’s voice prompts and visual instructions during its use.