Nearly 450 people die each day of sudden cardiac arrest. Many times the bystanders who witness a person collapse don’t know what to do. They are afraid they will hurt the victim or they feel nervous about doing traditional cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) with mouth-to-mouth breathing and chest compressions.
New information published in the New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM) shows that hands-only CPR is potentially a lifesaving option to be used and it can improve the chance of survival equally as well as traditional CPR. This study confirms other reports that bystanders can save lives by doing chest compressions in adults and children who are not breathing.
The two studies from NEJM compared the outcomes of victims who collapsed and onlookers gave either chest compressions alone or were instructed by emergency telephone operators to give traditional CPR. They found no difference in survival rates. Other studies have shown that children who receive bystander chest compression CPR are 3 times more likely to survive than those who receive no help.
Because onlookers are more likely to administer chest compressions and it is easier to execute, it is important that everyone know how to do it. The compressions need to be deep on the sternum (lower breastbone) at 100 times a minute. Do not stop until the emergency personnel arrive.
I am still haunted by the image of a man who collapsed and immediately turned blue in a shopping mall when I was a young teen. I knew he was dying and the bystanders (including me) just watched. I didn’t know about CPR then. I compare that to the runner who dropped dead of a heart attack in a Bay to Breakers Race when I was running as a medical resident. I administered full CPR in the Panhandle of Golden Gate Park until the paramedics arrived and administered cardiac shocks before transporting him to the hospital. He survived.
Knowledge is everything!
*This blog post was originally published at EverythingHealth*