A simpler way to aid amid heart attack?
LOS ANGELES — Chest compressions alone are as effective in rescuing victims of heart attacks as conventional CPR that combines compressions with forced breathing, researchers said Wednesday.
Studies in Washington state and Sweden confirm the growing idea that the breathing component of CPR is necessary only for children and those who have nearly drowned or have respiratory problems. Recent guidelines based on these and earlier studies may overcome some of the fears of bystanders who are reluctant to initiate CPR because of the danger of infectious diseases.
“These studies reinforce the message that the American Heart Association has been promoting since 2008,” said Dr. Michael Sayre, a professor of emergency medicine at Ohio State University in Columbus and a spokesman for the heart association. “When you encounter a person who has collapsed suddenly, the best thing to do is to call 911 and then push hard and fast on their chest.”
Communities that are already using the approach are seeing dramatic increases in survival of people who experience heart attacks, said Dr. Paul Pepe, head of the emergency medicine department of the University of Texas Southwestern Medical School in Dallas.
In smaller communities around Dallas, survival rates have as much as quadrupled, Pepe said. In Dallas, which has been slower to implement the guidelines because of its size, survival has increased by as much as 60 percent.
The national average survival rate for heart attacks outside the hospital is about 4 percent or less, Pepe noted, and only a quarter to a third of those who could survive are actually getting CPR, so significant numbers of people could be saved if CPR were used more widely.
The two new studies were published in the New England Journal of Medicine.