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Studies: CPR Without Rescue Breathing OK

Bystanders Who Only Do Chest Compressions Save Nearly as Many, Researchers Find
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CPR Techniques: The Studies continued...

Rea's study was supported in part by the Medic One Foundation and the Laerdal Foundation for Acute Medicine. In the second study, Swedish researchers evaluated 1,276 patients with suspected out-of-hospital heart attacks, assigning half to conventional CPR and half to compression-only.

The rate of 30-day survival was similar in the groups -- 8.7% of those getting compression-only CPR and 7% of those getting conventional CPR. The Stockholm County Council, SOS Alarm, and the Swedish Heart-Lung Foundation supported the study.

CPR, With and Without Mouth-to-Mouth: Other Views

The two new studies are good news for bystanders, some of whom have been reluctant to do the rescue breathing part of CPR, says Myron L. Weisfeldt, MD, chairman of the department of medicine at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, Baltimore, who wrote an editorial to accompany the studies.

Some bystanders worry about the risk of disease transmission in mouth-to-mouth resuscitation, he tells WebMD, although the risk has been shown to be low.

Based on the new studies, he says, "chest compression alone appears to be just as valuable as chest compression with rescue breathing." The new findings, he says, apply to adults with cardiac arrest.

The chest compression component, he suspects, is also easier for most people to perform than the mouth-to-mouth.

''For the consumer, this is important [news]," says Sumeet Chugh, MD, associate director of the Cedars-Sinai Heart Institute, Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, Los Angeles. ''Enough data has accumulated to say that bystander CPR positively impacts survival," he tells WebMD. Now, the finding that chest compression alone seems adequate is even better news, he says.

"It is a little awkward to do rescue breathing on someone you don't know," he says.

But, he says, those who go to a CPR course should still expect to be taught the rescue breathing technique, he says, as it may be needed in other situations.

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