Wednesday, April 16, 2008
Since 2005 the American Heart Association has been suggesting that it's okay for bystanders who witness a cardiac arrest to start chest compressions on the patient but not bother with ventilations (mouth to mouth or mouth to mask). Now several studies have confirmed that, yes, if hypoxia (lack of adequate air) was not a part of the cardiac arrest (and in most arrests it isn't), then it doesn't alter the outcome for the patient if only compressions are performed. Just call 911 then jump right in and begin hard, fast, uninterrupted chest compressions. You can read all about it at http://circ.ahajournals.org (once there, search for hands-only cpr). Out there, of course, where we spend a lot of time, hypoxia may well be involved--drowning, avalanche burial--and those folks will need ventilations. And we don't often have access to 911. So, at least for now, we should keep our CPR skills, compressions and ventilations, ready for action.