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New Hands-Only CPR

New Hands-Only CPR

For 50 years, cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) involving mouth- to-mouth breathing and chest compressions has been the gold standard for keeping people alive after a sudden cardiac arrest. Dr. Michael Sayre, associate professor of Emergency Medicine at The Ohio State University Medical Center, has co-authored new 2010 CPR guidelines, based on findings that victims often didn’t get enough chest compressions.

 The studies found the average person spent more time than anticipated shifting from the breathing portion of CPR to the chest compressions. Also, paramedics or physicians would often get involved with performing other techniques, such as checking pulses and heart rhythms or giving medications, and divert their attention away from the number of chest compressions.

Updated CPR guidelines increased the number of chest compressions, which improved cardiac arrest survival rates in many cities, including Columbus, from about 5% to 10%. “More interesting” Sayre said, “were studies that showed survival rates were about the same whether the rescuer performed only chest compressions or combined chest compressions and mouth-to-mouth breathing.”

Because of this, the American Heart Association decided that everyone can help with Hands-Only CPR, even if they had never been trained in CPR. The process to change from A-B-C (Airway-Breathing- .Compressions) to C-A-B.(Compressions- Airway- Breathing)-with the second and third steps reserved for those who have CPR training- underwent intense scrutiny before it was adopted.

“We needed to emphasize the importance to professional and lay rescuers of chest compressions” Sayre said. “So we adopted the C-A-B approach, ensuring that all victims will get chest compression right away, that even untrained rescuers can provide Hands-Only CPR, and that professional rescuers will realize that chest compressions are the most important part of CPR”

Now that Hands-Only CPR has been formally adopted, the process of educating millions of people to do things differently is under way. New courses and materials are available this spring from the American Heart Association.

While the first steps of care for a person who collapses suddenly remain to call 9-1-1 and send someone to get an automated external defibrillator, rescuers should then begin Hands-Only CPR. “The new process is easier to perform, and people are much more willing to do it” Sayre said.

And that translates to more lives being saved.

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