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eVitality January 2011
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your safety
Save a Life with Hands-Only CPR

Photo of man receiving CPRTo survive, anyone whose heart suddenly stops needs immediate cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR).

Sadly, fewer than one in three people who have heart attacks in public places get the lifesaving help they need. Bystanders often fail to render aid out of fear they’ll make things worse by not doing CPR right.

But research in recent years found similar survival rates among adults in cardiac arrest who received CPR with or without rescue breaths, using chest compressions alone.

In response, the American Heart Association (AHA) started telling untrained bystanders in 2008 that they could skip rescue breathing for adults who collapse abruptly. And in its 2010 guidelines, the AHA reversed decades-old advice by telling all rescuers—trained or otherwise—to start chest compressions before clearing the victim’s airways or starting rescue breathing.

Surveys have found that Americans with no CPR training would be more likely to perform hands-only CPR. In addition, those who had received CPR training said they would be more likely to offer aid because the change eliminated their fear that they couldn’t properly remember the steps of CPR with rescue breaths.

These answers to questions about hands-only CPR may help you feel comfortable using it.

Q: When should I do hands-only CPR?
You should do it if you see an adult or teen collapse.

Q: What should I do?
Call 911 or your local emergency number or send someone to do so. Then start pushing hard and fast (100 times per minute if possible) in the center of the person’s chest with minimal interruptions. Push the chest down at least 2 inches for an adult and 1.5 inches for a child. Let the victim’s chest rebound between compressions.

Q: When should I do conventional CPR?
Compressions and rescue breathing (30 compressions followed by two breaths and repeated) are recommended for children and for people who clearly appear to have stopped breathing, such as drowning victims. Still, the AHA urges you to give hands-only CPR in such cases if you’re reluctant to try rescue breathing.

Q: Is there any danger in providing hands-only CPR?
The AHA says any attempt to give hands-only CPR to someone after a heart attack is better than no attempt. The chances the person will survive are near zero without chest compressions followed by medical care. Although there is some risk that chest compressions could break a rib, this risk is far outweighed by the lifesaving benefit provided by CPR.

For information about hands-only CPR , go to to watch a brief video demonstration.

© StayWell Custom Communications. Information is the opinion of the sourced authors and organizations. Personal decisions regarding health, diet, and exercise should be made only after consultation with the reader's own medical advisers. This material may not be reproduced for redistribution without written permission from StayWell Custom Communications.

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