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Health Team

Study: Hands-only CPR can save lives

Posted October 5, 2010 5:30 p.m. EDT
Updated October 5, 2010 6:51 p.m. EDT

When someone goes into cardiac arrest, every moment counts. But many non-trained bystanders say they are uncomfortable performing conventional CPR on someone because it includes rescue breathing or they're afraid they may cause harm to the victim.

A public health campaign in Arizona advocating chest compression, or hands-only, CPR increased cardiac arrest survival rates and the number of citizens actually performing CPR, a new study shows.

"Bystanders can dramatically improve the odds of survival if they do immediate chest compressions,” said Dr. Bentley J. Bobrow, of the Arizona Department of Health Services:

Researchers studied more than 5,000 cardiac events that occurred outside of hospitals over a five year period in Arizona.

It was during a time that the state launched a public health campaign urging people to do chest compression-only CPR rather than including rescue breathing.

Rates of bystanders doing CPR went up 28 to 40 percent.

The study appears in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

"The type of bystander CPR changed dramatically from about 20 percent of the people doing compression-only CPR to 76 percent of the time they were doing compression-only CPR,” Bobrow said.

CPR classes were also offered statewide, along with online training videos and media outreach.

Hospitals statewide reported that 80 percent of the cardiac arrest survivors during that period went home in good shape.

Researchers say the American Heart Association began supporting hands-only CPR in 2008.