Hands Only CPR Can Save More Lives
Bystander cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) can more than double a person’s chance of surviving cardiac arrest, but the prevalence of bystander CPR remains low in most areas of the country, according to research reported by the American Heart Association (AHA). People cite fear of infection from mouth-to-mouth contact, fear of doing something wrong, and panic as some of the major reasons for not initiating bystander CPR when they see a person experiencing cardiac arrest.
However, people who are reluctant to begin traditional CPR, involving chest compressions and rescue breaths, can use hands-only CPR that involves no mouth-to-mouth contact, according to the AHA. Research has shown that hands-only CPR is just as effective as traditional CPR with rescue breathing in terms of survival and preventing brain damage.
“With cardiac arrest, every second counts because brain death begins to occur within 5 or 6 minutes after the heart stops,” said Sentara RMH cardiologist Michael Scholfield, MD. “For every minute that CPR is delayed, a person’s chance of survival decreases by 10 percent. But people who have been taught how to use hands-only CPR typically feel more confident that they can administer life-saving help without fear of doing something wrong or fear of mouth-to-mouth contact.”
Using hands-only CPR, the rescuer provides compressions on the nipple line over the heart at a steady rate of between 100 and 120 compressions per minute, Dr. Scholfield said. The compressions help maintain brain and heart function until the arrival of EMS. This hands-only approach is recommended for adults and teens who have experienced cardiac arrest. However, the AHA recommends CPR with mouth-to-mouth rescue breathing for infants under 1 year, children under the age of puberty, drowning victims and those suffering drug overdose.
“There’s no doubt that more lives would be saved following cardiac arrest if we had more bystanders in the community willing and able to provide CPR, even if it’s the hands-only version,” said Dr. Scholfield.
For anyone interested in learning more, the American Heart Association website provides resources including videos that demonstrate how to perform hands-only CPR. For those wishing a more interactive training, the local AHA is providing a free 20-minute hands-only CPR training class on Tuesday, March 3, at 5:45 p.m. at the JMU Festival and Student Conference Center, 1301 Carrier Drive, Harrisonburg. Each participant or couple will receive a community CPR kit to take home and share with family, co-workers and friends. The training class is free, but registration is required by calling 1-800-SENTARA or going to Sentara.com.
Class participants are invited to remain for Matters of the Heart, the annual free heart health seminar sponsored by Sentara RMH, which begins at 6:30 p.m. in the Conference Center. To learn more about Matters of the Heart, go to Sentara.com or call 1-800-SENTARA. Please note that there are separate registrations for these two free public events.
By: Neil Mowbray