60-Second Science

Lay Rescuers: Try CPR without Mouth-to-Mouth Resuscitation

New data show that when bystanders without emergency medical training try CPR using only chest compression, the results can be better than if they also attempt mouth-to-mouth. Christopher Intagliata reports

You're in the supermarket, and a man collapses. He's gasping. It's CPR time. But wait, was it 20 compressions, two breaths, or 15 to every one breath? Can't remember? Well you may not have to. Because there’s hands-only CPR—pressing the chest fast and hard, about 100 times a minute, no mouth-to-mouth. And it saves at least as many lives as traditional CPR. That’s according to a study in the Journal of the American Medical Association. [Bentley Bobrow et al.,
Chest Compression–Only CPR by Lay Rescuers and Survival From Out-of-Hospital Cardiac Arrest]

Five years ago the state of Arizona, with lots of senior citizens, launched a campaign to educate its people about hands-only CPR. They hoped bystanders would stop panicking about breath-to-compression ratios—and touching mouth to mouth—and possibly save more lives. It seems to have worked.

Looking at 4,400 cardiac arrest cases, researchers found that the rate of bystanders performing CPR shot up 50 percent. And the percentage of Arizonans surviving cardiac arrests went from 4 percent to 10. In fact, the odds of surviving were actually better when cardiac arrest victims received hands-only CPR, compared to mouth-to-mouth. So if it's hero time, think "Stayin' Alive"—it’s got the right 100 beats per minute. Call 911. And start pumping.

—Christopher Intagliata

[The above text is an exact transcript of this podcast.]

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