by Heidi VanniFrom the December 2009 issue of Values
For victims of sudden cardiac arrest (SCA), Zoll Medical's products could mean the difference between life and death. Founded in 1980 and headquartered in Chelmsford, Mass., Zoll makes noninvasive cardiac defibrillators, pacing devices, and circulatory support devices used in emergency situations to resuscitate hearts that have stopped beating. Hospitals, paramedics, and other emergency medical personnel are the primary users of Zoll’s products.
Defibrillators deliver electrical current to the heart to stop fibrillation (i.e., arrhythmia) and permit the return of coordinated cardiac contractions. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that 460,000 people die from SCA annually in the United States. SCA strikes without warning and can kill within minutes. Most victims have no prior symptoms. When SCA strikes, time is the most critical element for survival. For every minute of delay in the restoration of effective cardiac function provided by defibrillation, survival decreases by as much as 10 percent. According to the American Heart Association, more than 95 percent of SCA victims in the United States die, in many cases because life-saving defibrillators arrive too late, if at all. If CPR and defibrillation are provided within the first three minutes after collapse, survival rates can reach as high as 75 percent.
Zoll’s best-selling product to date, the M Series defibrillator, is designed for trained healthcare professionals. This device incorporates features that record and transmit data, monitor the heart’s electrical activity, and measure oxygen saturation in the blood. It has been selected as the standard defibrillation device by institutions such as Brigham and Women’s Hospital, the Mayo Clinic, the Johns Hopkins Hospitals, and the U.S. Army. Zoll Medical also makes portable automated external defibrillators (AEDs) that non-professionals can use to analyze a patient’s condition and shock the heart back into rhythm if necessary. Zoll Medical is the only company that offers AEDs with real-time CPR feedback. This feedback assists rescuers by analyzing the pace and compression pressure being delivered, and offering verbal cues. For example, the machine’s computerized speaker might say, “Increase compression speed,” or “Good compressions,” thereby improving the rescuer’s efforts.
Zoll Medical has recently introduced new products that build on its expertise in resuscitation. For example, recognizing that the back of a speeding ambulance can be a difficult place to administer advanced life support, Zoll Medical created the AutoPulse. The AutoPulse is a non-invasive, cardiac support pump that wraps around the victim’s chest and automatically administers chest compressions via a hands-free chest compression device. This reduces the risk of injury to the rescuers and allows them to focus on other threats to the victim’s body. Most importantly, the AutoPulse allows for more consistent chest compressions during CPR. The AutoPulse can circulate nearly 100 percent of normal blood flow; manual compressions circulate approximately 30 percent of normal blood flow.
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