Should You Buy a Defibrillator for Your Home?

We have all held our breath as we watched our favorite TV doctor yell “Clear!” and shock a person back to life. What you are witnessing in those scenes is the doctor using a defibrillator, which is when a doctor attaches paddles to a patient's chest and delivers an electric jolt to the heart. What you may not know is that these devices can also be purchased online and stored at home for emergencies. Review the information below to help you determine if you should buy an at-home defibrillator.

What is an At-Home Defibrillator?

A device (defibrillator) is used to treat life-threatening situations that require defibrillation – when the rhythm of the heart needs an electric shock to re-establish a normal heartbeat, often times associated with a heart attack (cardiac arrest). The Automated External Defibrillator (AED) is a computerized medical device that can be used to:

  • Check the heart rate
  • Detect irregularities
  • Notify the user when a shock is needed

If you have experienced or are at risk of a heart attack, maintain high blood pressure, or have any form of heart disease, then you should purchase an AED. This device could save your life.

How to Purchase an At-Home Defibrillator

Currently, the only AED approved by the FDA for use at home without a prescription is the Philips HeartStart Home Defibrillator. This device has life guidance features that provide step-by-step voice instructions to guide you during a confusing and challenging moment when treating someone in cardiac arrest. The Phillips AED is priced around $1,200 and can be purchased from Amazon and Walmart, just to name a few. This device is considered to be an over-the-counter product and doesn’t require a prescription.

According to the American Heart Association (AHA) AEDs are safe and relatively easy to use by anyone who’s been trained to operate them. The more difficult, and potentially dangerous part is how someone recognizes a heart attack, knows when to use the device, and more importantly, knows when not to use the device. The good news is that 90% of the time AEDs are able to detect a rhythm that should be defibrillated, and 95% of the time they are able to recommend not shocking the individual if it would do more harm than good. To get the proper training, contact the AHA for AED courses by calling 1-888-CPRLINE or go online at

Studies find that bystanders are saving lives with defibrillators nearby, but emergency first responders should always be called. (Source: The AED device cannot always treat heart attacks since other interventions or measures may be required. Ultimately, there are many positives associated with an at-home AED, but be careful not to overly rely on the device. You should also consider including a first-aid kit in your home and becoming trained in CPR to be as prepared as you can for any type of emergency.