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CPR - 3 Minutes to Save a Life

  • Synopsis: Published: 2010-09-30 (Rev. 2013-06-14) - First aid instructions on how to perform hands only CPR a new procedure recommended in by the American Heart Association for cardiac arrest. For further information pertaining to this article contact: Terry Dunkle, DietPower CEO and Editor-in-Chief.

Main Document

Quote: "According to five major studies published since 1997, Hands-Only CPR is just as effective as the old method."

One day, perhaps when you least expect it, a friend, relative, co-worker, or perhaps someone you are passing on the street, may go into cardiac arrest. This happens 350,000 times a year in the United States. Sadly, only 6 percent of the victims survive.

The survival rate would double, however, if everyone knew how to perform Hands-Only CPR, a new procedure recommended in 2008 by the American Heart Association. You can learn it in three minutes by simply reading this article.

Unlike old-fashioned CPR, the newer version doesn't ask you to blow your breath into the victim's mouth. Instead, you concentrate solely on pumping the victim's chest with your hands.

According to five major studies published since 1997, Hands-Only CPR is just as effective as the old method. Reason: When the heart stops, the blood still contains four to six minutes' supply of oxygen. Hence, during the critical period when emergency help is rushing to the scene, it's more important to keep the blood circulating than to replenish the lungs with air. In fact, pausing every 30 strokes to deliver two puffs of air (the old procedure) may actually hurt the victim's chances.

Obviously, if the victim stopped breathing more than six minutes ago or succumbed to drowning or asphyxiation, the oxygen will have diminished and the new method may be more likely to fail. The same may be true in children, where cardiac arrest usually stems from choking or asthma.

Nevertheless, authorities say, Hands-Only CPR is always better than doing nothing.

To Perform Hands-Only CPR:

1. Call 911 - or better yet, ask someone else to call.

2. Immediately place the heel of one hand in the middle of the victim's chest, just above the tip of the breastbone.

3. Place your other hand on top of the first.

4. Push sharply down enough to depress the chest 1-1/2 to 2 inches. Don't be timid. You may need to apply half your weight if you're of average build. (Yes, this may crack a rib, but that's better than pumping too weakly to move the blood.)

5. Repeat the pumping action 100 times a minute. (How fast is that? If you count seconds by saying "One thousand one, one thousand two," it's about two thrusts per second - one on every "thou-" and one on every number. Or imagine that you are beating time to the famous Bee Gee lyrics: "Ah! ha! ha! ha! Stayin' alive!")

6. Continue until emergency workers or a defibrillator arrives.

Now, read those steps again while picturing yourself doing them. Then you'll be ready when it's your turn to save a life.

Terry Dunkle, an international award-winning health journalist, is also founder and CEO of DietPower, Inc. (, a leading provider of weight-loss and nutrition software, news, and features.

Related Information:

  1. CPR Training Guidelines
  2. Hospitalized Patients Need Better Understanding of CPR and Outcomes

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