Thirteen - fourteen - fifteen - breath. Or, wait, was that twenty-eight - twenty-nine - thirty- breath - breath? There’s certainly little doubt that cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) saves lives. By some estimates, those who suffer a sudden cardiac event and receive no CPR at all have less than a 6 percent chance of survival. Despite the fact that CPR saves lives, for many the challenge isn’t in doing chest compressions or rescue breaths, but in remembering the correct ratio of compressions to breaths required to actually help resuscitate the heart attack victim. According to researchers at the Washington University School of Medicine, chest compressions alone, without the benefit of rescue breathing, may be more beneficial to heart attack victims than traditional CPR.
For adults, traditional CPR consists of a combination of alternating 30 chest compressions to two rescue breaths. Washington University researchers believe that rescue breathing is not only unnecessary, but that heart attack victims actually have a greater survival rate than those receiving traditional CPR with rescue breathing.
Researchers combined and examined the data of three separate studies relating to heart attack victims and survival based on the type of CPR received (chest compression only versus traditional CPR). In all, data for over 3,700 patients were examined by the research team. Researchers found that heart attack patients who received chest compressions only had a 22 percent greater survival rate than those receiving traditional CPR.
Researchers indicate that in most instances survival is more dependent on continuing to circulate blood flow (which is accomplished through chest compressions) than supplying oxygen (which is accomplished through rescue breathing) to the victim. This is because most persons suffering a sudden heart attack or cardiac arrest generally have enough oxygen already present so supplying oxygen is not as critical as blood flow. The exceptions to providing chest compressions only CPR would be in instances where the heart hasn’t stopped beating due to a heart related malfunction but as a result of some type of trauma such as drowning.