CPR Without Mouth-to-Mouth Is Also Effective
He says CPR instruction should be changed to place more emphasis on chest compressions. "This challenges preconceived notions, but provides some proof that the challenge is realistic. I think people need to think rationally and carefully about the process" of teaching and performing CPR, he tells WebMD.
"This is actually a very important study, although its scope is limited to areas where there is a short response time," says Koren Kaye, MD, co-director emergency medical services at Regions Hospital in St. Paul, Minn., and an assistant professor of clinical emergency medicine at the University of Minnesota.
Kaye, who reviewed the study for WebMD, agrees with Hallstrom that people who are hesitant to perform CPR should at least do chest compressions. "If the difference is between not doing CPR at all and doing CPR with chest compression only, clearly I would rather see something done that, to the best of our knowledge, appears to be good, rather than doing nothing before care arrives, which we know is bad," Kaye says.
Kaye adds that instruction for emergency medical staff who are trained by Regions Hospital may change based on this study. Region's dispatchers already give CPR instruction if callers agree to do it, but they only provide direction for standard CPR -- mouth breathing plus chest compression. "If we can show that the easy way works as well as the hard way, then we would adjust for that," Kaye says.
While praising the study, a spokesman for the American Heart Association says more research is needed before the organization can embrace the concept that anything other than standard CPR should be practiced or taught.
"We have been evaluating the different studies that have come forward, and the final conclusion is that it is advisable to continue teaching the full form of CPR," says Jerry Potts, PhD, director of science for the association's emergency cardiovascular care programs. "The heart association has been really trying to identify ways to simplify how we teach CPR. The ultimate goal is for everyone to know CPR and be willing to do it."
An official with the American Red Cross was also hesitant to discuss any practical applications of the study's findings. "We are definitely interested and excited about it, if it is something that can save lives," says Connie Harvey, a health and safety expert with the Red Cross. She adds that she is eager to see whether the findings are embraced by emergency medicine experts, which will determine whether any changes are made to Red Cross CPR programs and guidelines.