You’ve seen CPR in hundreds of movies and TV shows when someone has a heart attack and maybe you even took a certification class. Well, you can forget some of what you’ve learned. Experts now say it’s okay to skip the mouth-to-mouth part and do “hands-only” CPR for cardiac arrest, but only for adults. According to the Associated Press, studies show that “hands only” works just as well as standard CPR for adults who suddenly collapse, stop breathing, and are unresponsive. That’s because they’re usually suffering from cardiac arrest – a sudden heart stoppage. Since victims still have plenty of air in their blood and lungs, chest compressions are enough to keep oxygenated blood flowing to the brain and heart. In fact, emergency service dispatchers have been coaching callers to do hands-only CPR rather than telling them how to alternate breaths and compressions. It’s less complicated, and the survival rate is better.
For the same reason, the American Heart Association now recommends deep, rapid chest compressions until help arrives. About 100 a minute. If the adult is a victim of near-drowning, a drug overdose, or carbon monoxide poisoning, they do need mouth-to-mouth to get oxygen back into their system. Another important distinction: Children also need mouth-to-mouth because kids who collapse are more likely to have breathing problems. Dr. Michael Sayre is a professor of emergency medicine at Ohio State University, and head of the committee that recommended “hands only” CPR. He points out that people who quickly get CPR have triple the chance of surviving. He hopes that bystanders will now be more willing to jump in and help if somebody suddenly collapses, since they’ve removed the mouth-to-mouth “ick factor” and fear of infection. Dr. Sayre also says that with “hands only” CPR, you only have to do two things: Call 911, and push hard and fast on the middle of the person’s chest - 100 times a minute. Until paramedics take over. If you’d like more information about “hands only” CPR, log onto the website AmericanHeart.org.