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Health officials cheer findings on simpler way

Mouth-to-mouth resuscitation less helpful for adults

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If you're grossed out by the thought of doing mouth-to-mouth resuscitation with a stranger, here's some good news.

 Red Cross of Augusta instructor Alex Beacham says bystanders can use hands-only ways to help strangers who stop breathing. 
  Jackie Ricciardi/Staff
Jackie Ricciardi/Staff
Red Cross of Augusta instructor Alex Beacham says bystanders can use hands-only ways to help strangers who stop breathing.

A new study out of Arizona shows that CPR using only chest compressions is not only acceptable, but it might also be more effective.

Health officials welcomed the news because more people are likely to do CPR on a stranger if the "yuck" factor is removed.

"We'd like everyone to be trained in (full) CPR. But just chest compressions does work," said Alex Beacham, a CPR instructor who volunteers for Red Cross of Augusta.

The study, published in the Journal of the American Medical Association , showed that out of 849 victims who received hands-only CPR, 113 survived, or 13 percent. By comparison, 52 out of 666 victims who received traditional CPR survived, or about 8 percent.

Stopping for mouth-to-mouth interrupts the circulation, when most adults already have enough oxygen in the body to sustain them until professional help arrives.

What really matters is keeping the blood moving because the brain will die within three and 10 minutes without circulation, said Dr. Stuart Smith with Augusta Cardiology Clinic.

"It's very quick," he said. "The longer you wait the greater the chances you just don't revive."

The negative pressure of chest compressions does introduce some oxygen into the body, Smith added.

It's important to note that with children the mouth-to-mouth resuscitation is still necessary.

Adults usually drop from cardiac issues, but for children it's usually a respiratory issue that precedes heart failure, Beacham said.

The Red Cross considers a baby up to 1 year old an infant and anyone between the ages of 1 and 9 a child.

Even without the mouth-to-mouth, CPR is hard work.

To effectively stimulate the chest cavity and create the necessary pressure, a person performing chest compressions needs to push 2 inches into the chest. The goal is a rapid pace of 100 compressions per minute.

Beacham said this blunt force on the body usually breaks ribs, but it's a small price to pay.

"You do what you have to do," he said.

Associated Press reports were used in this article.

Perform chest compressions

Find the center of the victim's chest.

Fold your hands over that spot on the chest and lock your elbows.

Begin rapid compressions that push 2 inches into the chest at a rate of 100 per minute. Think of the Bee Gees' disco song Staying Alive to keep a rhythm.

SOURCE: AMERICAN RED CROSS


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