Health Buzz: New CPR Guidelines Emphasize Compressions

Free services for women with breast cancer; FDA comes down on chelation as untested autism treatment.

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New Guidelines: CPR Should Start With Chest Compressions

Rescuers administering cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) should emphasize rapid chest compressions and not mouth-to-mouth resuscitation, according to updated guidelines issued today by the American Heart Association. In the past, bystanders were taught to clear the victim's airway, deliver rescue breaths, and then start chest compressions. But the new catch-phrase CAB—or compressions-airway-breathing—calls for at least 100 compressions per minute, starting immediately. "Chest compressions are the most important part of CPR," AHA spokesman Michael Sayre told Reuters. Recent research suggests bystanders are more amenable to performing compression-only CPR on strangers than the more intimate mouth-to-mouth CPR, Reuters reports. More importantly, sick folks who receive the hands-only kind are 1.5 times more likely to survive than those who receive conventional CPR.

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  • Free Services for Women With Breast Cancer

    When battling breast cancer, it helps to have an army of well-wishers on your side. And there are plenty, including dozens of groups designed to make the journey smoother, if not a bit brighter. Some clean patients' homes; others send customized scarves, or hats, or pillows, U.S. News reports. Often, these services are free.

    "Cancer is a shocking experience. You don't expect to get it, and you don't know what's going to happen to you," says Ann Silberman, 52, of Sacramento, Calif., who was diagnosed with breast cancer last year. "Knowing different groups are there for you in a real, personal way has been one of the more meaningful parts of my whole cancer experience."

    Here's a sampling of free available services that cater to cancer patients nationwide:

    Breast Cancer Diagnosis Guide iPhone application. Breastcancer.org, a nonprofit that promotes disease awareness, released its mobile app in late September. Two weeks later, it had been downloaded more than 1,600 times. Patients plug in details about their condition—cancer type, tumor size, and grade, for instance—and they'll receive an extensive lesson, including illustrations and definitions. The app also features a glossary of terms commonly spouted by oncologists and surgeons. "Getting results back from the doctor is very overwhelming," says Jamie DePolo, a breastcancer.org senior writer who spearheaded the app's development. "If you're unfamiliar with some of the medical terms, you can look them up right away with just a click." Women also receive personalized breast cancer news, including the latest studies on treatment options. "The research is relevant for each individual, so you don't have to wonder whether the information should matter to you," DePolo says. [Read more: Free Services for Women With Breast Cancer.]

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    • FDA Cracks Down on Chelation as Untested Autism Treatment

      Chelation is a legitimate medical treatment for heavy metal poisoning, but there's no evidence that it treats autism, heart disease, Alzheimer's, and other serious conditions. Despite that, chelation is heavily marketed on the Internet and by "alternative" physicians and pharmacists as a cure for these diseases, writes U.S. News correspondent Nancy Shute. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration just slapped the hands of eight companies for marketing chelation as a medical treatment for autism, saying that the treatments could be dangerous, and could also keep people from using therapies that are safe and effective.

      "These products are dangerously misleading because they are targeted to patients with serious conditions and limited treatment options," Deborah Autor, director of the Office of Compliance in the FDA's Center for Drug Evaluation and Research, said in a press release. "The FDA must take a firm stand against companies who prey on the vulnerability of patients seeking hope and relief." [Read more: FDA Comes Down on Chelation as Untested Autism Treatment.]