Monday, April 7, 2008

New CPR Training: Hands-Only saves lives

How does it go again? Ten breaths to 20 pumps? Five to 30?

If you’ve ever taken a first-aid training class, you know remembering the ratio of breaths to chest pumps can be tough, making CPR (or Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation) intimidating to attempt. But, lifesaving just got a lot easier.

Saving adult lives with CPR no longer depends on mouth-to-mouth breathing. A call to 911 and chest compressions are sufficient until help arrives, according to a new American Heart Association scientific statement.

The American Heart Association announced the major change to CPR training in a release last week. Hands-Only CPR - rapid, deep presses on the victim’s chest until help arrives - works just as well as standard CPR for sudden cardiac arrest in adults.

About 310,000 adults in the U.S. die each year from sudden cardiac arrest occurring outside of a hospital setting.

“Without immediate, effective CPR from a bystander, a person’s chance of surviving sudden cardiac arrest decreases 7 percent to 10 percent per minute,” according to the American Heart Association press release.

Bystander CPR can double or triple a person’s survival chances after suffering sudden cardiac arrest. Less than one-third of cardiac arrest victims outside of hospital settings receive bystander CPR.

The association hopes the change will encourage more bystanders to help if someone nearby suddenly collapses.

“You only have to do two things. Call 911 and push hard and fast on the middle of the person’s chest,” said Dr. Michael Sayre, an emergency medicine professor at Ohio State University who headed the committee that made the recommendation.

In many cases, bystanders don’t help out of fear that they will injure the victim or don’t have the confidence, said Sayre. He advises bystanders not to be afraid to try Hands-Only CPR because many lives can be saved.

Hands-Only CPR requires 100 uninterrupted chest presses per minute until paramedics take over or an automated external defibrillator (AED) is available to restore the victim’s normal heart rhythm.

The new recommendations only apply for adults who unexpectedly collapse, stop breathing and are unresponsive. Many times the collapse is caused by cardiac arrest and the victim still has ample air in the lungs. Compressions keep blood flowing to the brain, heart and other vital organs.

The change is supported by three separate studies finding no negative impact on survival when ventilations were omitted from bystander CPR.

Mouth-to-mouth breathing should still be performed when the victim is a child or an adult who has become unresponsive from a near-drowning, drug overdose or carbon monoxide poisoning. These victims need mouth-to-mouth rescue breaths to get air into their lungs and bloodstream.

The Heart Association still urges the public learn full CPR and medical personnel should still perform conventional CPR as a part of their medical duties. Hands-Only will be added to conventional CPR training.

Visit the Hands-Only CPR site for more CPR training information.

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