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CPR: Mouth-to-Mouth Not Much Help

Study: Chest Compression, Not Mouth-to-Mouth, Best Resuscitation for Adults
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Death of Mouth-to-Mouth Resuscitation? continued...

"This does not surprise me one bit," CPR researcher Joseph W. Heidenreich, MD, of Texas A&M Health Science Center, tells WebMD. "This is what all of us who have done CPR research have suspected for years. This is amazing data. Primarily, what people who suffer cardiac arrest need are chest compressions."

But not everyone is willing to give up on teaching people to give mouth-to-mouth resuscitation. One of them is Lance Becker, MD, director of the center for resuscitation science at the University of Pennsylvania and past chair of the basic life support subcommittee of the American Heart Association (AHA).

"The real message from this study is that doing something is better for saving people's lives than doing nothing," Becker tells WebMD. "Good compressions are associated with good things. It does not mean that ventilation is not an excellent thing as well."

Becker says the AHA has always said that if people feel uncomfortable doing mouth-to-mouth resuscitation, they should simply focus on chest compression. And he says the new study validates this approach.

Charles Sea, MD, an emergency-room physician at Ochsner Medical Center in New Orleans, teaches CPR to doctors. He says that new CPR techniques emphasize chest compressions over mouth-to-mouth ventilation.

"We are implementing new standards for faster, stronger chest compressions -- 100 a minute, and only about six to eight breaths a minute," Sea tells WebMD. "Compared to the old CPR, just doing compressions would get better results. But I bet if they did the new CPR with the fast compression and minimal ventilation, they would get even higher survival rates than with compression alone."

But mouth-to-mouth resuscitation steals precious time from chest compression, argues Gordon A. Ewy, MD. Ewy is director of the Sarver Heart Center and professor and chief of cardiology at the University of Arizona College of Medicine in Tucson.

"If you witness an adult collapse, it is most likely to be a cardiac arrest," Ewy says. "In cardiac arrest, the blood is fully oxygenated. What you need to do is press hard and fast on the chest to circulate the blood. This circulation you get from pushing on the chest is barely enough to keep the brain alive. If you stop for anything, like so-called 'rescue breathing,' which is an oxymoron, it is not good."

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