CPR guidelines simplified

By HSC Staff Writer • Published: February 27th, 2006
Category: Health in a Heartbeat

When it comes to C-P-R, the message is clear: Simple is better.

Guidelines issued by the American Heart Association impart a new mantra to those who give cardiopulmonary resuscitation to someone whose heart has stopped beating: Push hard, push fast. That’s the best way to get oxygen-rich blood to the brain, heart and other vital organs.

The new guidelines call for thirty chest compressions… instead of fifteen… for every two rescue breaths. And they no longer say rescuers should interrupt their compressions at regular intervals to check for a pulse.

In other words, keep pumping. Once the blood stops, it takes precious seconds to get it moving again.

The guidelines replace a relatively elaborate protocol of carefully timed chest compressions interspersed with rescue breaths given at precise moments… a routine that differed depending on whether the patient was an adult or a child.

Medical professionals decided the protocol was too complex. Untrained people, and even those who were trained but felt their skills were rusty, were reluctant to perform C-P-R for fear of doing it wrong. Training in the old regimen took half a day or more, compared to as little as one hour for the new guidelines.

It’s hoped these adjustments will boost the number of C-P-R-trained responders from the current nine million to twenty million.

Almost any improvement will help. Out of every twenty people who suffer cardiac arrest, nineteen die before reaching a hospital. Providing effective C-P-R could save half of them.

It’s that simple.