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You can save a life with your own two hands – Why everyone should learn CPR

Researchers in Sweden have found that any type of CPR (cardiopulmonary resuscitation) administered by bystanders was associated with doubled survival rates of heart attack patients compared with no CPR before the arrival of emergency medical services (EMS).

Rates of bystander cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) for out-of-hospital cardiac arrest (OHCA) nearly doubled and rates of compression-only CPR jumped sixfold over the past 18 years in Sweden, the new Swedish study suggests.

“These findings support continuous endorsement of chest compression-only CPR as an option in CPR guidelines,” Jacob Hollenberg, MD, PhD, director, Centre for Resuscitation Science, Karolinska Institutet, Stockholm, and scientific chair, Swedish Resuscitation Council, told theheart.org | Medscape Cardiology.

Their results were published online April 1 in Circulation.

“Importantly,” said Hollenberg, “randomized, controlled trials are needed to answer the question of whether or not CPR with chest compression and ventilation is superior to compression-only CPR in cases in which the bystanders have had previous CPR training. In Sweden, a large RCT is currently ongoing trying to answer this question.”

“This is an important study,” Benjamin Abella, MD, director, Center for Resuscitation Science, University of Pennsylvania Perelman School of Medicine, Philadelphia, told theheart.org | Medscape Cardiology.

“There has been some hesitation to drop ventilation because it’s been such a time-honored concept that ventilations are important during CPR,” he explained.

“There was a big push in Sweden to improve bystander CPR education using compression-only CPR, which is easier to teach and an easier message for people to hear because people often don’t want to put their mouths to a stranger,” he said. “This is one the first studies to really clearly show that you can greatly disseminate compression-only CPR as a teaching strategy and you can improve survival not just with regular CPR, but also compression-only CPR.”

The study, Abella added, is “one of the strongest pieces of evidence to date supporting the notion that we should be teaching hands-only CPR. In the United States, we still have a long way to go in educating the public and making people fully aware that compression-only CPR is an option.”

Lack of awareness that CO-CPR is an option “is an important barrier to people actually performing CPR,” said Abella.

The study was funded by the Swedish Heart and Lung Foundation. Hollenberg and Abella have no relevant disclosures. (Published online April 1, 2019.)