Can successful defibrillation be done with a car battery? Is it POSSIBLE for this to work?

Let's say you are stuck on a very remote place and something happens to someone...

Moreover, can you jump start someone's heart using the battery of a car and the jumper cables, keeping in mind that:

  1. in order to start a stopped heart you need electrical current applied in a short period, like 20 ms, and at a relatively high tension (200v) and small intensity?
  2. car battery provides low tension current (12v) at a relative high intensity (70-80A) and the period cannot be 20 ms, but around 200-300 ms giving the fact that humans are not able to react that fast.
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    $\begingroup$ Welcome to BiologySE - you're going to have to give a little more research effort to try and figure out this question. Have you tried google to see what might be known about that? Your question would be better if you could add more to it - especially with some rationale $\endgroup$ May 24, 2016 at 17:18
  • $\begingroup$ don't know what else can be added $\endgroup$
    – aurelius
    May 24, 2016 at 17:31
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    $\begingroup$ your above comments are useful - you should add them to your question... it's always helpful to show some research effort... biology.stackexchange.com/help/how-to-ask (also, you might want to clarify that you're interested in defibrillating the heart, which is only part of cardiopulmonary resuscitation) $\endgroup$ May 24, 2016 at 21:53
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    $\begingroup$ You need to look up what CPR is - and also see defibrillation. $\endgroup$
    – rg255
    May 25, 2016 at 14:41
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    $\begingroup$ CPR is not really about restarting the heart. See paragraph 3 $\endgroup$
    – rg255
    May 25, 2016 at 15:23

1 Answer 1


In general, no.

Car batteries are designed to provide a large amount of amperage, to turn the starter with a high amount of torque via an electric motor. Generally this is done at 12 or 24 volts.

The current recommendations for a defibrillator requires 200V, and a very small amount of amperage. This is one of three settings in a standard defib procedure. The second setting is 300V, and the final is 360V. The point of defibrillation is not to provide power to the heart, it is to disrupt the heart's built-in electrical (biological) circuitry, such that the heart can go to rest (not beating).

Many cardiac events involve the heart beating in an uncoordinated manner, such that many or all of the muscle fibers in the heart beat in a manner that doesn't provide the squeezing action on the chambers to push the blood forwards. Defibrillation seeks to correct such an uncoordinated beating by resetting the heart to rest, after which it will hopefully start beating again in a coordinated manner.

In short, attaching a car battery is more likely to cook the heart (if it even gets that deep) because it is providing too much power, and it is unlikely to disrupt the heart's electrical field because it is too low of a voltage. With this in mind, one could theoretically attach enough electrical transformation equipment to a car battery to use it as a power source for defibrillation. But there are other issues with such an idea.

Car batteries are not designed for the usage that would mesh well with a defibrillation machine. Car batteries are designed to be recharged. Your car battery basically drains pretty heavily upon starting a car, and then the alternator recharges it by harvesting mechanical power from the engine during your trip. This heavy drain / heavy charge cycling is hard on batteries, and car batteries have been specifically designed to endure in such a scenario.

A defibrillator machine has a different use scenario. Basically it sits idle for long periods of time, and when it does require charging, it gets electricity from a wall socket, at higher voltage (and generally lower amperage). This means it tends to charge more slowly, which in general means longer battery life. Also the battery is built differently, to hold charge better at the expense of not being recharged as quickly.

In short, a car battery is really the wrong tool for the job.

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    $\begingroup$ Welcome to BiologySE... nice answer - we always appreciate some references that other users can go to for more information... if you could add those to your answer it would greatly strengthen it $\endgroup$ May 25, 2016 at 15:06
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    $\begingroup$ @VanceLAlbaugh Feel free to edit and improve upon up my statement, and I understand the desire to make things into a "referenced encyclopedia" like format; but, I have have other goals in life. If anyone wants to check any item above, they can use google. If something was wrong with my answer, there'd be 20 guys crawling all over it telling me I was wrong anyway. $\endgroup$
    – Edwin Buck
    May 25, 2016 at 15:17
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    $\begingroup$ @EdwinBuck you may have other goals in life, but we expect answers here to be adequately sourced. Please read this meta post for discussion on this topic. Your answer may be flagged and removed if citations are not added. $\endgroup$
    – MattDMo
    Jun 18, 2016 at 16:36
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    $\begingroup$ Great and interesting answer--I was happy to read it despite the negative press covfefe, $\endgroup$ Sep 7, 2018 at 1:10

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