“Compression Is the Only Way to Go,” Says American Heart Association

CPR is a lifesaver, as Susanna Rohm of Marietta, Ga. discovered. Her 3 month-old son Isiah, had stopped breathing while at home. Susannah called for help to 2 young boys playing football outside. Rocky Hurt and Ethan Wilson, both 9, were playing ball when they heard the cries to call 911 and for help. The pair, fortuitously, had learned Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation, CPR, from posters at school.

They immediately went to work on the baby and guided the distraught mother through the procedure, no parent ever wants to do. Mercifully it worked and Isiah lives on.


New Guidelines for Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation

The American Heart Association, or AHA has recently provided new rules for cardiopulmonary resuscitation, more memorably referred to as CPR. The new rules put rapid and accurate chest compressions at the heart (no pun intended) of the first aid technique for good samaritans who find themselves in a position to help people who have stopped breathing.

Medical consensus is behind the AHA’s refocus on compressions and away from mouth to mouth rescue breathing. Which has been advocated for the last half century. “Compression is the only way to go,” says a spokesperson for the AHA, an ER doctor at Ohio State University. Rescue breathing is still part of the first aid guidelines, but for children and anyone whose problem is down to lack of oxygen in the first place.

The AHA amendments to their guidelines, comes after a mounting body of evidence from research proving that people witnessing a heart stop event are more willing to do compression without mouth to mouth than they are with conventional CPR. But more importantly, compression CPR on patients actually works better. “It’s a big deal,” says the chairman of emergency medicine at Vanderbilt University in Nashville, who has long been pushing for the change. “People are standing around while others are dying, when all they have to do is pump on their chests.”

How Common Is Cardiac Arrest?

Around 300,000 Americans suffer from cardiac arrest each year, far away from clinical facilities. They either have a heart attack or undergo some other coronary disturbance. Just under 8%, or 24,000 die. An assessment of 3,700 CPR incidents was reported in the journal Lancet. Amazingly it said that compressions without mouth to mouth CPR helped 22% more people to recovery than the previously recommended method. Extrapolating from this, the AHA amendments could save up to 3,000 more lives every year in America alone and a further 5,000 to 10,000 in the rest of the World.

[box type=”info”]Another significant piece of research published last October in the Journal of the American Medical Association found that people who used the ‘compressions only’ version of CPR succeeded in raising survival numbers to 3 or 4 out 10 from less than 2 out of 10 patients who got conventional CPR or no first aid at all. Also, the number of people who said they would be willing to administer CPR went up from 28% in ‘05 to over 40% in ‘09.[/box]


Claire Al-Aufi

Claire Al-Aufi is a contributing author for Hive Health Media who provides updates on health and fitness news.

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