Hands-Only CPR Most Effective Resuscitation Method, Study Says
CPR may be more effective when it does not include mouth-to-mouth breathing, new research suggests. People who collapse from cardiac arrest and receive chest compressions from bystanders are more likely to survive than those given the traditional mouth-to-mouth resuscitation, according to a study published Wednesday in the Journal of American Medical Association. The study is based on more than 4,000 adults who suffered cardiac arrest between 2005 and 2009. Nearly 700 of those patients received conventional CPR from a bystander, while 849 received chest-only compressions; the rest received no CPR. Patients who received hands-only CPR had a 13.3 percent rate of survival, compared to 7.8 percent for those who received mouth-to-mouth CPR. Those who did not get CPR had a 5.2 percent survival rate. "Anyone who can put one hand over the other, lock their elbows and push hard and fast can save a life," said lead author Bentley J. Bobrow, a medical director for the bureau of emergency medical services and trauma system at the Arizona Department of Health Services.
While this is useful information, the fact remains that almost half of those who die suddenly from a heart attack or other cardiac problem have no prior symptoms.
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Even knowing someone's risk factors for heart disease, it's often tough to pinpoint who will actually go on to get the disease, U.S. News reports. And once blood flow to the heart muscle is blocked and a heart attack happens, it's not exactly clear why some people experience sudden cardiac arrest, and others don't. Those uncertainties, however, don't mean that you are powerless to protect yourself from dying of a heart attack. Here are steps to take to improve your odds:
First, follow the standard prevention guidelines. The American Heart Association has three basic tips for preventing heart disease, stroke, and heart attack: Don't smoke, be more active, and make good nutritional choices. This is good general health advice, regardless of your heart disease risk.
Exercise is also important. "Exercise raises good cholesterol and lowers bad cholesterol," says Rob Michler, director and chairman of heart surgery at the Montefiore-Einstein Heart Center in New York. Worrying that exercise is going to give you a heart attack is not a valid excuse for skipping it; while it's true that exercise raises your odds of a heart attack in the moment, the long-term benefits vastly outstrip this short-term risk. Still, check with your doctor first if you're obese, have health problems, or haven't exercised in years. [Read more: 6 Ways to Avoid Dying of a Surprise Heart Attack.]
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