Rescuer Breaths Not Required, AHA Says in New Scientific Statement

Chest compressions alone (Hands-Only Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation) can help an adult who suddenly collapses if administered by rescuers who are untrained in conventional CPR or unsure of their ability to give compressions and breaths, according to an American Heart Association scientific statement dated April 1 that is available at http://circ.ahajournals.org/cgi/reprint/CIRCULATIONAHA.107.189380. The statement is from the association;s Emergency Cardiovascular Care committee and was published in Circulation, the AHA journal.

"Bystanders who witness the sudden collapse of an adult should immediately call 9-1-1 and start what we call Hands-Only CPR. This involves providing high-quality chest compressions by pushing hard and fast in the middle of the victim's chest, without stopping until emergency medical services responders arrive," Dr. Michael Sayre, chair of the statement writing committee and associate professor in the Ohio State University Department of Emergency Medicine, said in a release posted on AHA's Web site.

About 310,000 adults in the United States die each year from sudden cardiac arrest. Immediate, effective CPR from a bystander is needed or the person's chance of surviving decreases by 7-10 percent per minute. AHA said on average, fewer than one-third of out-of-hospital cardiac arrest victims receive bystander CPR, which can double or triple a person's chance of surviving cardiac arrest. "Many times, people nearby don't help because they're afraid that they will hurt the victim and aren't confident in what they’re doing," Sayre said. "We want people to know that they can help many victims just by calling 9-1-1 and doing chest compressions. Don't be afraid to try it. We are sure many lives will be saved if the public does Hands-Only CPR for adult victims of sudden cardiac arrest."

The new recommendation is an update to the 2005 American Heart Association Guidelines for CPR and ECC, which previously recommended that lay rescuers use compression-only CPR only if they were unable or unwilling to provide breaths. AHA says conventional CPR is still an important skill to learn, and medical professionals should perform conventional CPR in the course of their professional duties. These new recommendations apply only to bystanders who come to the aid of adult cardiac arrest victims outside a hospital setting.

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