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New CPR Changes Could Save Lives
By Crystel Bailey
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Health officials expect more people to survive a heart attack when changes are made to simplify cardiopulmonary resuscitation by inexperienced bystanders.
"Since most cardiac arrests take place in the home, a trained CPR provider is not usually available. For this reason, most victims in need of CPR do not receive immediate help," said Linda Patterson, a registered nurse and health education specialist with Mississippi State University's Extension Service.
Patterson said to call 911 if someone has no signs of breathing or heartbeat. A 911 dispatcher on the phone may be able to give instructions in effective resuscitation.
Resuscitation includes chest compressions, which replace a heartbeat by moving blood through the body, and mouth-to-mouth resuscitation, in which a rescuer breathes for the victim.
However, a recent study published in the New England Journal of Medicine examined the effectiveness of phone instruction in mouth-to-mouth resuscitation.
This study found that survival rates are the same for cardiac arrest victims when CPR is given with chest compressions alone compared to those given standard CPR. This study refers only to situations where a 911 dispatcher on the phone is giving instructions to someone inexperienced in CPR.
Other studies show that an unwillingness to perform mouth- to-mouth resuscitation keeps many bystanders from performing CPR, which means that omitting mouth-to-mouth breathing may increase the use of CPR.
Even though emergency dispatchers may instruct inexperienced bystanders in this simpler technique, Patterson said that giving chest compressions alone is certainly less than ideal.
"A trained rescuer is very likely going to increase the chances of survival by doing mouth-to-mouth along with chest compression," said Jerry Potts, director of science for the American Heart Association's emergency cardiovascular care programs.
Patterson and Potts said people should be taught both parts of CPR and be able to respond quicky if someone near them has a heart attack. They also emphasized the importance of calling 911 if someone is having a cardiac arrest.
Patterson noted that the American Heart Association continues to recommend a combination of chest compression and mouth-to-mouth resuscitation when administered by someone who has taken a CPR training course.
"Learning how to perform CPR correctly can be a life-giving experience," Patterson said.
The American Heart Association and the American Red Cross both offer training courses in CPR.