NEW YORK – You can skip the mouth-to-mouth breathing and just press on the chest to save a life.
In a major change, the American Heart Association said Monday that hands-only CPR – rapid, deep presses on the victim’s chest until help arrives – works just as well as standard CPR for sudden cardiac arrest in adults.
Experts hope bystanders will now be more willing to jump in and help if they see someone suddenly collapse. Hands-only CPR is simpler and easier to remember and removes a big barrier for people skittish about the mouth-to-mouth breathing.
“You only have to do two things. Call 911 and push hard and fast on the middle of the person’s chest,” said Dr. Michael Sayre, an emergency medicine professor at Ohio State University who headed the committee that made the recommendation.
Hands-only CPR calls for uninterrupted chest presses – 100 a minute – until paramedics take over or an automated external defibrillator is available to restore a normal heart rhythm.
The CPR guidelines had been inching toward compression-only. The last update, in 2005, put more emphasis on chest pushes by alternating 30 presses with two quick breaths; those “unable or unwilling” to do the breaths could do presses alone.
Now the heart association has given equal standing to hands-only CPR. Those who have been trained in traditional cardiopulmonary resuscitation can still opt to use it.
Sayre said the association took the unusual step of making the changes now – the next update wasn’t due until 2010 – because three studies last year showed hands-only was as good as traditional CPR. Hands-only will be added to CPR training.
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