CPR has long comprised three steps: clearing one's airway, administering mouth-to-mouth breathing, and pumping their chest. But the American Heart Association's new guidelines say that untrained resuscitators should just skip the whole mouth-to-mouth part. Wait! No!
The new guidelines state that chest compressions are the most important step in Cardiopulmonary resuscitation, and in most cases, especially if the resuscitators don't have formal CPR training, they should be the first step taken.
Recent studies showed that starting with chest compressions yielded higher survival rates for people in cardiac arrest - the cause for the vast majority of situations in which CPR would be administered. Dr Michael Sayre, co-author of the new guidelines, says that the traditional technique "was causing significant delays in starting chest compressions, which are essential to keeping oxygen-rich blood circulating through the body".
Situations in which an individual is under respiratory distress - a drug overdose, say, or drowning - will still benefit from traditional mouth-to-mouth, however, which means that this classic trick from The Sandlot should still work just fine.
Here are the AHA's full instructions for the new CPR:
— Before starting, shake the victim's shoulders and shout to see if he responds.
— If the victim is not breathing, yell for someone to call 911. If you're alone, call 911.
— Begin chest compressions. Push hard and fast on the centre of the chest at a rate of at least 100 compressions a minute (which happens to be the beat of the 1977 Bee Gees disco hit "Stayin' Alive").
— Push down on the chest at least 2 inches with each compression. Make sure you fully release the chest before beginning the next compression.
— If you have not been trained in CPR, continue chest compressions until help arrives.
— If you have been trained, after 30 chest compressions open an airway and begin mouth-to-mouth breathing. Give two breaths, then resume chest compressions. Continue sets of 30 chest compressions and two breaths until help arrives.
100 compressions a minute is also the beat of "Quit Playing Games With My Heart" by the Backstreet Boys and "Heartbreaker" by Marian Carey, points out Giz editor and all-around weirdo Jason Chen, which I must admit is some excellent cosmic CPR/BPM punnage. [SF Gate, AHA]