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AHA announces new hands-only CPR

by Kelly MacNeil on October 18, 2010

The American Heart Association has announced that the traditional method of CPR will be replaced by a new version that focuses primarily on chest compressions, in an attempt to decrease the number of people who die due to cardiac arrest.

Called Continuous Chest Compression, the new procedure will abandon traditional mouth-to-mouth contact and go straight to pumping hard and fast on the chest in order to keep blood flowing to the brain until trained rescuers can take over.

The old approach was causing delays in chest compressions which are crucial for keeping the blood circulating and is currently enacted only half the time a person collapses from cardiac arrest, according to WebMD.com.

“Chest compressions are the most important part of CPR. The major change is switching to starting CPR with chest compressions rather than opening an airway and doing rescue breathing,” Dr. Michael Sayre, a spokesman for the American Heart Association, told Reuters.

Previously doctors thought that restoring breathing should come first to keep oxygen flowing to the blood. However, it has become clear that the blood has enough oxygen in it to keep crucial tissues alive for five to ten minutes and the key is to keep it the blood circulating through the body, according to CommonHealth.wbur.org .

Doctors hope the new method will encourage more people to perform CPR. According to studies reported in The Lancet, the mouth-to-mouth method has deterred people from trying CPR and is difficult to perform due to getting the patient’s head into the right position and getting a firm seal on the mouth.

A study published October 15 in The Lancet determined that the chest compression-only method improved survival rates over standard CPR.

The Inquirer.net reports that around 300,000 Americans suffer cardiac arrests every year and less than one in 10 survive.

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