The 4 Best Portable Defibrillators and Which to Buy

Automated External Portable Defibrillator or AED for sale

If you look around you'll see them everywhere. They usually hang on the walls in airports, lobbies, schools, and other public places, but automated external defibrillators (AEDs) are becoming more and more prevalent in people's homes, cars, and offices.

Thanks to some companies pushing the envelope to make defibrillators safer and easier to use, they are now available over the counter without a prescription.

Contents

Buying a Portable Defibrillator

Sudden cardiac arrest (SCA) kills more people than traffic accidents, handguns, house fires, prostate cancer, breast cancer, and AIDS combined, about 350,000 per year.

It can happen to seemingly healthy people, but those with coronary heart disease and the elderly are at high risk. A family history of arrhythmias or heart related problems can also indicate higher risk.

While AEDs have been conclusively shown to save lives, keeping one in your house will far from guarantee a positive outcome after an SCA.

Although SCAs can happen anytime, anywhere, 75% of them occur at home[2]. Therefore portable defibrillators for those at high risk should save lives, but it’s not quite that simple.

AED Considerations

Cardiac Science aed at an airport in South America
  1. AEDs cannot be used by the person in cardiac arrest, so there must be another person nearby to see it happen. SCAs aren’t a common occurrence and may not happen to everyone who is at high risk, so it’s usually impractical to keep tabs on a high risk family member 24/7, especially considering at least 6-8 hours of each day are spent sleeping. In fact less than half of SCAs at home are witnessed[2].
  2. When an AED isn’t kept in the house and the first shock comes from arriving paramedics, the victim’s chance of survival is only 2%. One study found the survival rate of SCAs at home increased from 2% to 12% when an AED was kept in the house, but those numbers might not be completely accurate because the study didn’t have enough participants to accurately represent the whole population.
  3. SCAs usually happen so fast the person having one cannot notify anyone.
  4. Instead of having AEDs in homes or targeting specific, high-risk patients, AEDs are most efficiently used in high traffic areas. For this reason many public places like airports, schools, and office buildings have defibrillators available in wall-mounted cases.

The bottom line is that portable defibrillators are expensive and only raise your chance of success from terrible to bad, but they do raise your chance of success. Taking a CPR course as a family along with having a portable defibrillator will also improve outcomes. Check out our article on CPR for more information.

Philips Heartstart OnSite/Home Defibrillator

Philips heartstart home defibrillator
  1. Voice instructions guide you through either adult or infant/child CPR.
  2. Daily automatic self-tests alert you when the defibrillator has a problem.
  3. The AED does not shock the patient by itself. It verifies that a shock is needed, then you push the button.
  4. Comes with a 5-year warranty.
  5. The Infant/Child pads cartridge is sold separately, and only available by prescription.

Specs

Philips Onsite AED
  • Weight: 3.3lbs (1.5kg)
  • Dimensions: 9.5˝ (24 cm) x 8.5˝ (21 cm) x 4.8˝ (12 cm)
  • 4 year standby battery life
  • Delivers 200 shocks minimum
  • Shocks within 8 seconds post CPR

Included Items

Philips Heartstart Automated External Defibrillator
  • Defibrillator
  • Red carry case with 911/EMS card
  • Adult SMART Pads cartridge (lasts 2 years)
  • Battery (lasts 4 years)
  • Training video
  • Discount coupons for CPR training at American Heart Association, American Red Cross or Medic First Aid

Pros and Cons

Philips HeartStart Automated External Defibrillator
  • Pros: No prescription needed, light weight, inexpensive
  • Cons: No CPR quality feedback

Note: If an AED does require a prescription, it will come with the device, but those that require a prescription are only available through authorized distributors.

Portability

  • Small and light enough to fit easily in a backpack or be carried by the handle.
  • No handle on device but carrying case has handle.
  • Accessories are available for rugged use including a hard waterproof carrying case.

AED Price

The Philips Heartstart Home defibrillator is the cheapest portable defibrillator I have found.

Despite having no functional differences, the Home defibrillator is sometimes offered at a significantly cheaper price compared to the OnSite defibrillator.

The products function exactly the same way; the only difference is their warranties:

Philips Heartstart Business Package

Philips Automated External Defibrillator Bundle with Cabinet

If you're buying an AED for business, public, or commercial use, Philips offers a packaged bundle that includes everything you need to install a wall mounted kit.

The kit includes an AED with adult pads and battery, a carry case, user manual, quick reference card, 5-year warranty, medical prescription, 3D wall sign, AED inspection tag, surface-mount alarmed AED cabinet, AED/CPR responder kit, and a decal sticker.

Although prices fluctuate, the business package usually adds a lot of value for the price. The wall mount case and the carry case can cost several hundred dollars when purchased separately.

This package also simplifies purchasing if you do not want to hunt down every separate piece you need.

Cardiac Science G3/G5

A Powerheart G3 AED device inside a cabinet
  1. The G3 costs less but is less customizable and has fewer features than the G5.
  2. Voice instructions guide you through either adult or infant/child CPR.
  3. Daily, weekly, and monthly automatic self-tests alert you when the portable defibrillator has a problem.
  4. The AED can shock the patient by itself if the fully automatic option is purchased. Otherwise, it verifies that a shock is needed, then you push the button.
  5. Comes with a 7-year(G3) or 8-year(G5) warranty on the device and a 4-year warranty on the battery.
  6. The Infant/Child pads are sold separately.
Cardiac Science Portable Defibrillator

Specs

  • G3 weight: 6.6lbs (3.1kg) / G5 weight: 5.7lbs (2.6kg)
  • G3 dimensions: 3.3˝ (8 cm) x 12.4˝ (31 cm) x 10.6˝ (27 cm) / G5 dimensions: 3.4˝ (9 cm) x 9.0˝ (23 cm) x 11.8˝ (30 cm)
  • 4 year standby battery life

Included Items

  • Defibrillator
  • IntelliSense battery (9146) (4 year standby life)
  • Adult defibrillator pads (2 year expiration date)
  • Instructional CD and AED Manual
  • Training Video
  • Rescuelink and MDLink
  • Serial communication cable

Disclaimer: Included items may vary depending on the seller.

Pros and Cons

G5 Automatic AED Kit by Cardiac Science
  • Pros: Interchangeable pads
  • Cons: Heavier than some other models

Note: The AED comes with a prescription.

Portability

  • Heavier than the lightest models
  • Built in handle on device
  • Accessories are available for rugged use including a hard waterproof carrying case.
  • Water and dust resistant but cannot be submerged

AED Price

Prices may vary based on location and time. To find out the current price, visit the product on Amazon or contact Cardiac Science.

The automatic version will be more expensive than the semi-automatic version for both the G3 and the G5.

The G5 costs more because it is more customizeable, has more features, and the warranty is 1 year longer.

Cardiac Science G3 Business Package

The Cardiac Science G3 is now available on Amazon as a bundled package for businesses. It comes with a mountable wall cabinet, a portable carry case, a 3D mountable sign, and a CPR kit. The CPR kit has a razor, gauze, trauma shears, and a 1-way valve mask for rescue breaths.

The G3 comes in two versions. The semi-automatic version requires that someone push a button when the AED is ready to shock. The automatic version has no shock button, and it will shock the patient as necessary when it detects a shockable rhythm.

G3/G5 Accessories

Cardiac Science offer their adult defibrillator pads, child defibrillator pads, and battery replacements on Amazon.

Zoll AED Plus

  1. Voice instructions guide you through either adult or infant/child CPR.
  2. Weekly automatic self-tests alert you when the defibrillator has a problem. Self-tests can be configured to occur every 1-7 days.
  3. This portable defibrillator can shock the patient by itself if the fully automatic option is purchased. Otherwise, it verifies that a shock is needed, then you push the button.
  4. The Infant/Child pads are sold separately
Zoll aed plus

Specs

  • Weight: 6.7lbs (3.1kg)
  • Dimensions: 5.25˝ (13.3 cm) x 9.50˝ (24.1 cm) x 11.50˝ (29.2 cm)
  • 5 year standby battery life
  • Delivers 225 shocks minimum
  • 13 hours of patient monitoring
  • Red X appears when battery is capable of about 9 more shocks

Included Items

  • Defibrillator (7 yr warranty)
  • Adult Pads (lasts 5 years)
  • Battery (lasts 5 years)

Disclaimer: Included items may vary depending on the seller.

Pros and Cons

  • Pros: Provides feedback on CPR quality, long battery and pad life
  • Cons: Heavier than other models

Note: The AED Plus comes with a prescription included in the package

Portability

  • Easy to carry but heavier and bulkier than other models
  • Built in handle
  • Limited accessories available for rugged use

AED Price

The Zoll AED Plus is more expensive than other portable defibrillators, but Zoll boasts a longer battery and pad shelf life than most other brands. This may bring them to be on par with other brands in the long term.

Zoll Accessories

If you already own a Zoll AED Plus, accessories are available including replacement adult pads and batteries.

The Zoll AED plus takes ten, 123a lithium batteries. Although they are sold specifically for the AED Plus in packs of 10, those are more expensive than a generic pack of 12 from a good brand. With the pack of 12, you also have two extras in case there are a couple duds.

Portable Defibrillator Accessories

When purchasing an AED you may also consider purchasing several other items that will be useful for a CPR scenario.

CPR training-05

CPR Pocket Mask

The mask has a 1-way valve to provide assisted breathing during CPR. It covers the patient's mouth and nose and provides a barrier to prevent the transfer of body fluids between you and the patient.

A smaller alternative to the pocket mask is a disposable plastic barrier with a 1-way valve. If you already have a portable defibrillator, the pocket mask will fit easily inside the AED case, so size shouldn't be an issue.

The disposable barrier comes in a little pouch that is small enough to fit on a keychain. When giving breaths with the disposable barrier you will need to hold the nose shut as the barrier only covers the mouth.

When providing CPR, having a barrier is a very good idea because patients often vomit due to the pre-existing heart condition that caused the heart attack or during chest compressions from pressure on the stomach.

Pediatric AED Pads

Pedriatic pads for an automated external defibrillator

The AED comes with pads that are sized for adults. Pediatric pads are designed for children under 8 years old or under 55 lbs (25 kg). If you are in a situation where a child has a heart attack and you only have adult pads, an AED CAN still be used.

For small children place the right-shoulder pad on the chest and the left-ribs pad on the back. The AED will decide whether or not to shock the patient.

When paramedics arrive on the scene they will remove the pads and replace them with their own. When using pediatric pads each one will have pictures that show where it goes. Follow this link to purchase pedriatic pads online.

Nitrile Gloves

Often times the patient will vomit during CPR. If something is stuck inside their mouth the first responder needs to swipe it out. The point is, gloves will protect you and the patient from exchanging body fluids.

Portable Defibrillator Tips

Resuscitace za použití AED (02)
  1. You CAN'T use this on yourself.
  2. A portable defibrillator CAN be used on a pregnant woman. In order to save the baby you have to save the mother.
  3. If a child goes into sudden cardiac arrest and you only have adult defibrillator pads, you SHOULD connect the pads regardless. The AED will decide whether to shock.
  4. When instructing bystanders to call 911 and/or get an AED it’s most effective to point at a single individual. Giving general commands to a crowd makes it confusing who is supposed to go.
  5. The use of an AED is covered under Good Samaritan laws. This means that if you use a portable defibrillator to help someone in good faith, you cannot be held responsible should something go wrong[3].
  6. New research shows that raising the legs during CPR causes increased blood flow to important organs like the brain, increasing the chance of survival[4].

Summary:

  • Portable defibrillators are extremely easy to use
  • The Philips Heartstart OnSite/Home Defibrillator and the Zoll AED Plus are the only non-prescription AEDs
  • The only difference between OnSite and Home defibrillators is the warranty
  • Coronary heart disease, family history, and old age increase risk of sudden cardiac arrest
  • Use CPR in conjunction with AED
  • If sudden cardiac arrest is witnessed, call 911, get AED, start CPR in that order

Additional Resources

  1. How to Choose CPR Dummies for Training Courses
  2. What is a Sudden Cardiac Arrest (SCA)
  3. What is an AED Defibrillator
  4. How the heart works
  5. Learn CPR
  6. Cardiovascular Resources
  7. Philips Heartstart Home Defibrillator Specifications
  8. Zoll Portable Defibrillator Additional Information
  9. Zoll AED Plus Battery Specs
  10. G3 Portable Defibrillator Specs
  11. G5 Full Technical Specifications

References

  1. U.S. Department of Labor Occupational Safety and Health Administration (2001). "Cardiac arrest a automated external defibrillators (AEDs)". OSHA Publication No. TIB 01-12-17.
  2. Bardy, Gust H., et al. "Home use of automated external defibrillators for sudden cardiac arrest." New England Journal of Medicine 358.17 (2008): 1793-1804.
  3. https://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/text/42/238q
  4. Zhang, Yanru et al. "Not Bad: Passive Leg Raising In Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation-A New Modeling Study". Frontiers in Physiology 7 (2017): n. pag. Web. 14 Jan. 2017.

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