American Heart Association Announces New CPR Guidelines

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For over four decades, First Aid students being taught Cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) were told to stick to their ABC’s – a mnemonic device that stands for “Airway, Breathing and Compressions”.

However, in the recently released 2010 AHA Guidelines for CPR the American Heart Association in San Francisco now trains students to remember “CAB” – representing “Compressions, Airway and Breathing”.

The new C-A-B order ensures rescuers will start with the easiest step first: chest compressions; the step deemed most important and with the lowest barrier in the CPR process.  It is hoped this new guideline will make CPR simpler and ensure a high level of bystander intervention.

These most recent recommendations continue on with the new standards announced in 2008 where the mouth-to-mouth step in CPR was considered optional.

At that time, Dr. Gordon Ewy, director of the University of Arizona Sarver Heart Center in Tucson, where the compression-only technique was pioneered – and who was a proponent of hands-only CPR for 15 years – said he was “dancing in the streets” over the heart association’s change.

Ewy stated there was no point in giving breaths to cardiac arrest victims, since it often takes too much time away from the chest compressions to give the two breaths previously recommended, and the CPR recipients are often observed gasping in air on their own during compressions.

According to Dr Ewy, anonymous surveys also revealed that people are reluctant to do mouth-to-mouth partly because of fear of infections.   “When people are honest, they’re not going to do it,” he added. “It’s not only the yuck factor.”

Some additional changes to the 2010 AHA Guidelines for CPR include:

*      A new recommended compression depth of at least 2 inches
*      A new recommended compression rate of at least 100 beats per minute
*      Eliminated the need to “look, listen and feel for breathing”
*      Continue to recommend that untrained rescuers provide Hands-Only CPR
*      New protocols for EMS activation and first-aid training

The new official guidelines for CPR are available for viewing at the American Heart Association website.

Photo source: Wikipedia