CPR Just Got Easier: No Rescue Breaths

Everyone knows about CPR — cardiopulmonary recusitation. We see it on TV and movies all the time; someone drops to the ground unconscious, and people start to perform chest compressions and mouth-to-mouth breathing to keep them alive. It looks great on TV, but in real life the survival rate is very low — mostly because very few onlookers feel confident enough to do CPR, especially the mouth breathing.

Fortunately, a slew of new studies has made it a lot easier for everyone — you no longer have to do the mouth breathing. All you have to do is the chest compressions. The studies, published in the New England Journal of Medicine and reviewed here (New Trials Support Hands-Only CPR), show that the survival rate from hands-only CPR was just as good, and sometimes better, than the traditional CPR with rescue breaths. In some cases, especially drowning victims, rescue breathing is preferable, but in general, hands-only seems to do just fine for untrained people — which means almost everyone not in medical jobs. (Official training courses still emphasize rescue breathing, especially if you have the proper bag-mask equipment). Hands-only CPR has already been encouraged by the American Heart Association since 2008, as they are convinced that this can save a lot more lives.

This is great news and hopefully will encourage all readers to feel confident that they can do this. And if ever you’re in a scary situation where someone nearby isn’t breathing or has no pulse, and everyone’s standing around waiting for paramedics, hopefully you’ll remember this post and simply jump right in and start chest compressions. Don’t even stress about the ideal rate of 100 per minute — just do something, and you may save someone’s life.