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Health Team

CPR Without Rescue Breathing Better For Heart Attack Victims

Posted March 22, 2007
Updated March 23, 2007

An unconscious heart attack victim's chance of survival drops seven to 10 percent every minute without cardiopulmonary resuscitation, but many experts claim people can leave the rescue breathing out of it.

Now, research suggests that if people only do chest compressions when a person is in cardiac arrest, it could save more lives.

Millions of people learned to give CPR by giving 30 chest compressions followed by two rescue breaths. Health experts say mouth-to-mouth resuscitation is meant to supply oxygen to the brain.

"What we now know is that the blood has enough reserve oxygen in its supply for a 4- to 8-minute time frame," said Wake County Medical Director Dr. Brent Myers.

Myers said for the past two years, Wake County 911 operators have told callers to use the "compressions only" technique.

"We have seen a doubling in the number of patients discharged home from the hospital neurologically intact since we did just the simple change," he said.

If a person is unconscious, call 911, then tilt the head back and give two breaths to make sure the airway is clear.

Then, with the heel of the hand in the middle of the breastbone, start compressions. Don't stop doing compressions until help arrives.

Health experts say dropping the breaths make each compression more effective, because every time a person stops to breathe, it takes another five compressions before they are effective again.

Not all emergency service agencies, however, use the compression-only method.

The American Red Cross, for example, still trains people to use rescue breathing (two breaths) along with 30 compressions. It maintains that someone properly trained in CPR is still the best way to help someone in need.

10 Comments

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  • Notebender1970 Mar 26, 8:26 a.m.

    Hmmmmmm. Lots of comments from folks that this story isn't going to change anyway. The "Compressions Only" method is geared more for the untrained person that happens to see the person go down. This is only for folks to start working on the person to help give the person more time before our arrival. Working at "Code" in the back of the truck isn't going to change at all because of the training and the equipement ie ET Tubes, BVM's, Meds, Defibrillator. Compressions Only has it benefits just not if its me doing them. Stay with the training folks and when it changes then adapt to it. Lets not forget why we do what it is that we do.

  • firecaptain2000 Mar 24, 6:06 p.m.

    To the nay sayers: Try to think of the body as a machine and the mechanics that are required to sustain life; in this case specifically the heart and the “hydraulics” of its operation. The heart is as pump and anytime you start, or re-start a pump it’s NEVER at full capacity initially. Studies have established that there is a reserve supply of oxygenated blood in the body that will sustain life. Each time a single rescuer performing CPR stops compressions to give a breath, they also stop the pump! Here’s a question for you. People have been known to hold their breath 7-8 minutes. How long do you think they’ll last if their heart stops pumping? Trust me, as a responder in this county this works!

  • chicklet_troy Mar 24, 12:47 p.m.

    "I dont agree. In all my years of working in a hospital, i have been in hundreds of codes. It all goes back to ABC. Airway,breathing,circulation. You can have all the circulation you want but if no oxygenation; anoxic hit to the head is possible,eg. vegetative state. For my continuing ed. i take BLS,ACLS,PALS,NRP every 1 to 2 years now and the american heart assoc. is always changing the rules and saying to do it this way because of the studies. Then they change it back.The consensus with the code teams is to do it per teams protocol."

    When exactly was it changed to reflect the most current methods and when did you used to do them? And what hospital is it that you work at that your protocols override American Heart Association?

  • dhamma Mar 24, 12:16 a.m.

    Interesting story, Interesting Debate........ Nice to see folks who know what they are talking about making comments for a change.

  • WDW2006 Mar 23, 6:50 p.m.

    First, it is not the PUBLIC who makes the policy. Procedures are based on research and standards of care. As a CPR Instructor with EMS experience, I can tell you there are many variations on the same basic standard. If you are a trained in (Healthcare standard) CPR and can remember the steps and efficiently perform the steps then it is correct to do breaths and compressions. The problem arises when people who are not sure what they are doing (either untrained or simply don't remember) spend 5 minutes trying to give a breath. That is 5 minutes wasted and chances of survival are down the drain. During the first few minutes following collapse, the body contains enough oxygen to allow for compressions only CPR. Yes - they are going to need breaths at some point, and that is where EMS comes in. Bottom line - don't interrupt or delay compressions for more than 10 seconds to give a breath. I believe this information is meant for lay persons as opposed to healthcare providers.

  • Lizard Paw Mar 23, 6:34 p.m.

    I'm only doing chest compressions on women.

  • jajs Mar 23, 2:16 p.m.

    next they are going to tell you to pack their flanks and armpits in ice and only do chest compressions, don't give any drugs- the only dead body is a warm dead body

  • Been there once Mar 23, 11:25 a.m.

    If someone whats to help but hesitates because they can't remember how it goes,your up a creek. Then you have AED's and the new sequence for that and call first for adult but not children. The public needs a set policy that is easy to remember and preform.

  • sassyfrass Mar 23, 10:57 a.m.

    OK,I'm confused! I just took the refresher course, and we were trained to do the 2 breaths. I hope this works if I happen to need it.

  • Irock Mar 22, 10:16 p.m.

    I dont agree. In all my years of working in a hospital, i have been in hundreds of codes. It all goes back to ABC. Airway,breathing,circulation. You can have all the circulation you want but if no oxygenation; anoxic hit to the head is possible,eg. vegetative state. For my continuing ed. i take BLS,ACLS,PALS,NRP every 1 to 2 years now and the american heart assoc. is always changing the rules and saying to do it this way because of the studies. Then they change it back.The consensus with the code teams is to do it per teams protocol.