Tips for performing hands-only CPR for out-of-hospital sudden cardiac arrest

The image you have in your head of CPR is probably some combination of chest compressions and mouth-to-mouth resuscitation. While both may still be needed for children and infants, breaths are no longer necessary for teenagers and adults. According to the American Heart Association (AHA), hands-only CPR has been shown to be equally as effective for out-of-hospital sudden cardiac arrest.

"There is enough oxygen in our blood to keep our organs functioning without doing mouth-to-mouth," said Amy Craver, Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center's Heart and Vascular Center outreach coordinator. "Although oxygen supply is not unlimited, it is usually enough to allow time for first responders and EMS to arrive."

When a person's heart stops beating, their survival depends on someone administering CPR immediately. According to the AHA, 89 percent of those who suffer an out-of-hospital cardiac arrest die because CPR is not administered right away.

"If more of us knew how to perform CPR and felt comfortable doing it, a lot more people would still be alive today," Craver said.

By following the steps below, Craver says you can more than double a person's chances of survival.

If you see a teen or adult suddenly collapse, and they are unconscious:

•Call 911. Have someone else call 911 if you can't do it yourself.

•Push hard and fast at the center of the chest. Place the heel of one hand on the center of the victim's chest and put the other hand on top of the first. Then push.

•Keep pushing to the beat of the disco song "Staying Alive" until help arrives. The goal is to push at a rate of at least 100 beats per minute, which is about the same tempo as the song.

"Hopefully you will never have to perform CPR, but if you do, don't be afraid," Craver said. "Break it down into three simple steps: Call 911, push hard and fast at the center of the chest and keep pushing. Doing this could be the difference between life and death."


Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center

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