Saving a life: new rules for CPR

The American Heart Association issued new guidelines on Monday, October 18, for the steps for CPR (cardiopulmonary resuscitation). Responders are instructed to start with hard, fast chest presses before giving mouth-to-mouth resuscitation.

During cardiac arrest, the new guidelines dictate that responders should compress the victim's chest 100 times a minute to a depth of about two inches.

After a review of the available research published over a five-year period, the American Heart Association has replaced the old-school ABC (airway, breathing, and chest compressions) technique with the new and improved CAB (compression, airway, and breathing) technique. An exception to this rule is newborn babies.

Studies have shown that bystanders are reluctant to perform mouth-to-mouth, or give up too soon, thinking there is nothing more they can do. And that is part of the rationale behind the change, that chest compressions are often delayed while responders open the airway or waste precious minutes retrieving "a barrier device or other ventilation equipment," states the AHA in their official guidelines.

On Friday, October 8, the journal Lancet published a review of almost 4,000 cardiac arrest cases and found that hands-only CPR saved 22 percent more lives than the conventional ABC method. The switch could save up to 3,000 additional lives a year in the USA and 5,000 to 10,000 in North America and Europe, says lead author Peter Nagele of Washington University in St. Louis to USA Today.

While US measures apply to both trained professionals and bystanders, the UK, however, is staying true to ABC methods for those trained in saving lives. "A combination of chest compressions and rescue breaths remains the "method of choice," states the UK-based Resuscitation Council in a news release on October 18 from the British Heart Foundation. However, members of the public who are not trained in CPR are advised to use only chest compressions and not mouth-to-mouth resuscitation.

To learn more, visit http://www.americanheart.org

For tips on CPR: http://firstaid.about.com/od/cpr/qt/09_2010_CPR_Guidelines.htm

 

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