If you saw an adult suddenly collapse and become unresponsive, would you know what to do? The old way to do CPR involved alternating chest compressions and mouth-to-mouth breathing. The American Heart Association (AHA) has moved away from this mantra and now recommends a simple, two-step protocol:
• Call 911 (or have someone do it)
• Hands-only CPR (a.k.a. continuous CPR)
This new technique is easier to learn, easier to perform and more effective than traditional CPR. It’s also simpler for 911 operators to explain to people. In fact, the chances of survival are approximately doubled with hands-only CPR (23 percent vs. 14 percent). The “new” CPR concept was developed by Gordon Ewy and Karl Kern, two cardiac researchers at the Sarver Heart Center and professors at the University of Arizona College of Medicine in Tucson.
Here is how they describe the technique:
• Quickly place the person on their back, on a hard surface
• Check for responsiveness by “shaking and shouting”
• Put the heel of one hand in the center of the chest (between the nipples)
• Put your other hand on top of the first
• Very importantly, lock your elbows
• Put your shoulder directly over the center of the chest
• Then push “hard and fast,” at about 100 beats per minute, in the center of the chest until helps arrives
• You are basically “falling” onto the patient, which compresses the chest by about 2 inches
• It’s important to lift your hands off the chest completely, to allow it to fully recoil
• This causes negative pressure, which expands the lungs, which allows inhalation
• Don’t stop to clear the mouth or check for a pulse (and again, don’t perform mouth-to-mouth breathing)
Here is an interesting number to keep in mind: For every minute you delay CPR, the survival rate drops by 10 percent.
For more information, visit:
• www.handsonlycpr.org (or call 1-877-AHA-4CPR)
• http://handsonlycpr.org/handson/index.html, where you can actually practice CPR on the hot chest of your dreams (yes, really).
Please note that this technique does not apply to infants, children or people who drowned. Those patients actually do benefit from mouth-to-mouth breathing.
Cardiac arrest is the No. 1 killer in the U.S. Hands-only CPR is the best hope for survival. Be a life saver, and please spread the word, at home and at work.