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News of the Day ... In Perspective

11/18/2006

Compression-only CPR triples survival rates

Survival rates of cardiac arrest victims treated in the field by paramedics jumped from 3% to 9% since a new CPR protocol was initiated by six fire departments in the Phoenix area.

Dr. Gordon Ewy of the University of Arizona’s Sarver Heart Center, one of the leaders in developing the new protocol, refers to it as CCR, or cardio-cerebral resuscitation.

Mouth-to-mouth breathing has the disadvantage that many bystanders decline to do it. But even many paramedics spend far too much time breathing at the expense of vital chest compressions, researchers found.

The new protocol recommends 100 forceful chest compressions per minute, with no mouth-to-mouth breathing, if done by untrained bystanders. Even trained paramedics are told to do uninterrupted chest compressions for at least two minutes before attempting intubation or defibrillation.

“Getting the blood flowing again to the heart and brain is most critical in saving these lives, and that’s what chest compressions do,” said Dr. Ewy.

The method is inappropriate for respiratory arrests, as due to choking or drowning.

The American Heart Association calls for “more, fast” compressions but has not adopted the new protocol, partly out of fear that untrained bystanders can’t distinguish between a cardiac and a respiratory arrest (Arizona Daily Star 11/16/06).

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