CHICAGO — Hands-only CPR doesn't just eliminate the "yuck factor." A new study shows it can save more lives.
It's the first large American study to show more adults survived cardiac arrest when a bystander gave them continuous chest presses to simulate a heartbeat, compared to traditional CPR with mouth-to-mouth breathing.
"Anyone who can put one hand on top of the other, lock their elbows and push hard and fast can do this. No risk, no fear of causing harm," said lead author Ben Bobrow of the Arizona Department of Health Services in Phoenix.
"We want to take away all the reasons bystanders do nothing when they witness another person collapse."
With hands-only CPR, advocates say, potential rescuers don't have to contemplate what for some could be the "yuck factor" of putting their mouth to an unconscious person's mouth and breathing for them.
For others, the trimmed-down method simplifies a confusing procedure learned years ago and barely remembered — How many breaths? How many chest compressions? Are you supposed to pinch the nose?
Standard CPR with mouth-to-mouth and chest compressions is still best for very small children and victims of near-drowning and drug overdose, experts say, instances where breathing problems probably led to the cardiac arrest.
Nonstop chest compressions work better for adult cardiac arrest because most people take too long to do mouth-to-mouth, said senior author Gordon Ewy of the University of Arizona Sarver Heart Center.
The study appears in today's Journal of the American Medical Association.
Researchers looked at 4,415 adult cardiac arrests outside of hospitals in Arizona from 2005 to 2009 during the campaign.
The rate of bystanders attempting any type of CPR increased from 28 percent in 2005 to 40 percent in 2009. Bystanders were more likely to use hands-only CPR over traditional CPR as time went on.