Better Health: Smart Health Commentary Better Health (TM): smart health commentary

Latest Posts

CPR: Mouth-to-Mouth Breathing May Have Some Advantages Over Mask-Assisted Breathing

typical CPR pocket mask || CPR pocket mask, photo courtesy of Rama, CeCILLWhen a person performs cardiopulmonary (heart and lung) resuscitation (CPR), it is sometimes recommended to provide rescue breathing. This is certainly the case when the primary cause of the victim’s difficulty relates to failure to breathe adequately, such as with a drowning episode. When CPR first arrived on the landscape, laypersons were trained to perform mouth-to-mouth breathing (for adults) or mouth-to-mouth and nose breathing (for infants and small children).

Following growing concern about transmission of diseases from blood and body fluids, laypersons were introduced to using masks or something similar to allow them to provide breathing assistance (“artificial respiration,” “artificial ventilation,” “rescue breathing,” etc.) to non-breathing persons. Masks have been used for decades by professional rescuers for ventilating patients, often in conjunction with the use of bags in a “bag-valve-mask” configuration. The valve between the mask and bag provides for one-way flow and prevents the backwash of vomitus, blood, liquid from the lungs, or other fluids that might diminish the effectiveness of the technique.

A number of excellent masks and face shields are available on the market for rescuers to be able to (relatively) safely blow air into a victim’s lungs. One example is Read more »

This post, CPR: Mouth-to-Mouth Breathing May Have Some Advantages Over Mask-Assisted Breathing, was originally published on by Paul Auerbach, M.D..

Does “I Know CPR” Mean You Can Do CPR?

While I was browsing the produce section of my grocery store the other day, the sound of a panicked voice coming over the store’s loudspeaker made me jump. “Does anyone in the store know CPR? Anyone? CPR? We need you in baked goods!”

I froze. In theory, I know how to perform CPR — cardiopulmonary resuscitation. I took a two-hour course on it nearly 25 years ago. But I hadn’t given it much thought since then and I certainly hadn’t practiced what I learned.

My mind started whirling as I tried to remember the sequence of steps. They’d changed the rules a few years back — I knew that much — so I wouldn’t have to do mouth-to-mouth resuscitation. But where exactly on the chest was I supposed to push? Should I form a fist and push down with my knuckles, or use the ball of my hand?

Suddenly, sirens wailed outside the store. The rescue squad had arrived. Too late, as I learned afterward, for this man, who was a victim of a sudden cardiac arrest. This type of heart attack strikes so fast that there usually aren’t any warning signs. You might see someone grasp his or her chest, collapse, twitch and gasp a few times, and then lie deathly still.

At that point, every minute counts. Enough oxygen remains in the person’s bloodstream to nourish the brain for several minutes — but a bystander has to circulate oxygenated blood to the brain and other organs by pushing down on the chest hard and fast, mimicking the heartbeat.

I’m a health writer. I knew this intellectually. But until those agonizing moments in the grocery store, I never really understood on a gut level just how important every minute is. Read more »

*This blog post was originally published at Harvard Health Blog*

Fire Department App: “There’s A Hero In All Of Us”

Just admit it: Deep in your heart you’ve always wanted to be an emergency medical technician, if at least for a few moments. If you’re located in San Ramon Valley, California, you can now live that dream: The local fire department has released an iPhone app that will alert you of any emergency activity in the area.

The well thought-out application will send out a push notification to users who have indicated that they are proficient in CPR whenever there is a cardiac emergency nearby. In addition, the closest public-access automated external defibrillator (AED) is located by the app. Current response status of dispatched units are shown and incident locations are pinpointed on an interactive map. There’s even a log of recent incidents including a photo gallery. For the old-school ham and scanner lads, it’s possible to listen in on live emergency radio traffic. The app is available for free.

Homepage: Fire Department…

iTunes link: Fire Department…

*This blog post was originally published at Medgadget*

Lives Can Be Saved By CPR Bystanders

Bystander CPRNearly 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. Read more »

*This blog post was originally published at EverythingHealth*

Defibrillator Concept Fun For The Kitchen, Bad For The ER

This clever and funny Toast/e/r (“ER” included in the name) is by designer Shay Carmon. Note the QRS complex grill:


Concept page: Toast/e/r…

(via Gizmodo)

*This blog post was originally published at Medgadget*

Latest Interviews

IDEA Labs: Medical Students Take The Lead In Healthcare Innovation

It’s no secret that doctors are disappointed with the way that the U.S. healthcare system is evolving. Most feel helpless about improving their work conditions or solving technical problems in patient care. Fortunately one young medical student was undeterred by the mountain of disappointment carried by his senior clinician mentors…

Read more »

How To Be A Successful Patient: Young Doctors Offer Some Advice

I am proud to be a part of the American Resident Project an initiative that promotes the writing of medical students residents and new physicians as they explore ideas for transforming American health care delivery. I recently had the opportunity to interview three of the writing fellows about how to…

Read more »

See all interviews »

Latest Cartoon

See all cartoons »

Latest Book Reviews

Book Review: Is Empathy Learned By Faking It Till It’s Real?

I m often asked to do book reviews on my blog and I rarely agree to them. This is because it takes me a long time to read a book and then if I don t enjoy it I figure the author would rather me remain silent than publish my…

Read more »

The Spirit Of The Place: Samuel Shem’s New Book May Depress You

When I was in medical school I read Samuel Shem s House Of God as a right of passage. At the time I found it to be a cynical yet eerily accurate portrayal of the underbelly of academic medicine. I gained comfort from its gallows humor and it made me…

Read more »

Eat To Save Your Life: Another Half-True Diet Book

I am hesitant to review diet books because they are so often a tangled mess of fact and fiction. Teasing out their truth from falsehood is about as exhausting as delousing a long-haired elementary school student. However after being approached by the authors’ PR agency with the promise of a…

Read more »

See all book reviews »