New Guidelines Set for CPR

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The American Heart Association issued new guidelines for cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) on Monday, recommending that chest compressions be the first step when reviving victims of sudden cardiac arrest.

The old guidelines, instituted in 1966, stipulated that rescue breathing, more commonly referred to as “mouth-to-mouth,” precede the chest pumping.

“For more than 40 years, CPR training has instructed people to open a victim’s airway by tilting their head back, pinching the nose and breathing into the victim’s mouth, and only then giving chest compressions,” Michael Sayre, M.D., co-author of the guidelines and chairman of the American Heart Association’s Emergency Cardiovascular Care (ECC) Committee, said in a press release. “This approach was causing significant delays in starting chest compressions, which are essential for keeping oxygen-rich blood circulating through the body.

The amendment was finalized after research showed that bystanders were more likely to perform compression-only CPR on strangers and that it works better than conventional CPR.

According to  USA Today, a study published in The Journal of the American Medical Association in October found that bystanders who applied hands-only CPR were able to boost survival to 34% from 18% for those who got conventional CPR or none at all. Additionally, the percentage of people willing to provide CPR rose from 28% in 2005 to 40% in 2009.

Since 2008, the AHA has recommended that untrained bystanders use Hands-Only CPR — CPR without breaths — for an adult victim who suddenly collapses.

“The steps to Hands-Only CPR are simple: Call 9-1-1 and push hard and fast on the center of the chest until professional help or an AED arrives,” the AHA explained in its press release.

The change in the CPR sequence applies to adults, children and infants. However, rescue breathing is still recommended for infants and anyone whose cardiac arrest has been caused by oxygen deprivation.

Other recommendations, based mainly on research published since the last AHA resuscitation guidelines in 2005, include increasing the rate of compressions to at least 100 times a minute and pushing deeper on the chest, compressing at least two inches in adults and children and 1.5 inches in infants. Rescuers should also avoid leaning on the chest to allow it to contract and expand.

Those interested in a full tutorial can view this video on AHA’s website.

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