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"Hands-only" CPR
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My mother-in-law, Dorothy, had no idea that her trip to the mall would save a life. She was looking at a vacuum display in a department store when without warning, a man standing nearby crumbled to the floor. Dorothy rushed to his side and felt for a pulse. There was none. She shouted, “Does anyone know CPR?” But the crowd that had gathered just stared, so she began on her own. Two deep breaths…fifteen chest compressions…two breaths. After awhile a stranger came and assisted her until paramedics arrived and rushed the victim to the hospital.

This man was fortunate that Dorothy was there, that she knew CPR, and that she acted quickly. Weeks later, when he was released from the hospital, the man and his wife took my in-laws out to dinner. Sitting across the table from Dorothy, he leaned forward, looked her in the eye and asked, “How do you thank someone for saving your life?”

Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation (CPR) is a skill that everyone should learn. It saves lives. It could save the life of a family member (about 75% of all sudden cardiac arrests happen at home1) a friend, or in Dorothy’s case, a grateful stranger. With more than 250,000 Americans dying each year of sudden cardiac arrest,2 CPR skills are vital.

Newer CPR Guidelines

You may not have had the opportunity to take a CPR class, or in an emergency you may not remember the process. So the American Heart Association has helpful news for you. This spring, newer CPR guidelines came out—and they’re simple ones. The latest instructions from the AHA claim that “hands-only” CPR can be done in emergency situations by people with no training.

The new guidelines use a simple two-step method: First dial 911 to call for emergency medical help, then begin hands-only CPR by pushing on the person’s chest as hard as you can and as often as you can.3
This doesn’t rule out mouth-to-mouth breathing as part of CPR by trained individuals, but lives can be saved by compression alone. In other words, something is better than nothing.

The new recommendation applies only to untrained bystanders who come to the aid of adult cardiac arrest victims outside a hospital setting. Hands-only CPR shouldn’t be used on infants, children, or adults whose cardiac arrest is from respiratory causes such as drug overdose or near-drowning.

If you took a CPR class before 2005, the American Heart Association has released new guidelines for administering traditional CPR. For information on the new guidelines, or better yet, a CPR class near you, call your local Red Cross or go online to the American Heart Association and be prepared to save a life.

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By Nancy Canwell. Copyright © 2008 by GraceNotes. All rights reserved. Use of this material is subject to usage guidelines.

1 http://health.msn.com/health-topics/articlepage.aspx?cp-documentid=100199524&GT1=31036
2 http://www.redcross.org/news/archives/2000/8-24-00e.html
3 http://health.msn.com/health-topics/articlepage.aspx?cp-documentid=100199524&GT1=31036

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