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A better way to give CPR?

Would you be more willing to administer CPR (cardiopulmonary resuscitation) to a stranger if you could skip the mouth-to-mouth part?

New research presented last week at the American Heart Association's Resuscitation Symposium shows that would be just fine. In fact, performing the rapid, deep chest compressions without mouth-to-mouth breathing may actually boost a heart attack victim's survival odds.

Researchers at the University of Arizona's Sarver Heart Center found that a person's chance of surviving a cardiac arrest outside a hospital doubled when bystanders administered continuous chest compressions alone instead of chest compressions and mouth-to-mouth breathing.

The finding is important, the researchers note, because many people who witness heart attacks decline to perform CPR. Either they're afraid to do more harm than good, or perhaps they don't want to engage in mouth-to-mouth breathing. Making CPR easier and less icky might encourage more people to give it a go.

The American Heart Association is already on board with hands-only CPR; it's launched an ad campaign encouraging people who see someone collapse to just call 911 and start pumping the victim's chest. As I wrote last October, those compressions have to be rapid: You're supposed to perform them to the beat of the song "Stayin' Alive." (Sorry for the earworm, folks.)

Have you ever had to perform CPR? Have you ever seen someone have a heart attack and had to decide whether to take action? Or have you ever had a heart attack and been saved by a stranger? Let's hear your CPR stories.

By Jennifer LaRue Huget  |  November 23, 2009; 7:00 AM ET
Categories:  Cardiovascular Health , General Health  
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Comments

As a lifeguard in my youth I was trained to perform CPR and other life saving techniques. I once performed rescue breathing then CPR on a 7yr old child that was pulled from the deep end of a community swimming pool. He was unconscious, not breathing, and bright blue in the face and lips. I will never forget that moment and sense of relief when he began gasping for air. I owe the training I received from the Red Cross along with the help of my fellow colleagues for the successful rescue of that child.

Posted by: TheNovaer | November 23, 2009 10:28 AM | Report abuse

Kudos to TheNovaer! A save is a great thing.


Also -- can you clarify if these are guidelines for adults, not children? Former instructor here and while adults are big enough to go without new air as long as the blood is still pumping, kids aren't generally having classic heart attacks and are more complex.

And remember over the holiday -- heart attacks can feel like heart burn -- don't mess around after the big meal and Dad tells you it's just a little indigestion!

Posted by: capecodner424 | November 23, 2009 10:49 AM | Report abuse

The song "Another one bites the dust" also works, even if it is a bit less optimistic.

But in all seriousness, if doing only chest compressions will help get more people out there who are willing to do CPR, I think it's a good thing. CPR does give victims a better chance. I'd also be interested in hearing if chest only applies to just adults, or for adults and kids.

Posted by: Sitka1 | November 23, 2009 5:23 PM | Report abuse

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