No more mouth-to-mouth?

Tue, 04/15/2008 - 3:42pm
By: John Munford

‘Hands Only’ CPR authorized, but just for adults who just collapsed

In some cases when an adult suffers a heart attack, your hands and fingers might be all you need to double or triple the victim’s chances of survival.

The American Heart Association is recommending that — in certain situations — CPR be performed without any mouth-to-mouth or “rescue” breathing to assist the victim. But 911 must be called first to send rescue crews to the scene immediately before initiating the new “hands only” style of CPR.

Hands Only CPR is recommended only for cases in which an adult is seen collapsing, CPR can now be performed strictly with chest compressions at the recommended rate of 100 times per minute in the middle of the victim’s chest, according to the new AHA guidelines.

In a brief online video about Hands Only CPR, AHA recommends the compressions be “hard” and “fast.”

Mouth-to-mouth breathing as part of chest compressions is still necessary for CPR on all unresponsive infants and children, on adult victims who have collapsed with an unknown time of onset and all victims of drowning or respiratory problems, the AHA recommends.

The reason for the change on adults who are seen collapsing is that at the time of collapse the injured person is likely to have been breathing normally, AHA officials have said. That means there’s plenty of oxygen in the blood to supply the victim’s brain for several minutes while emergency crews respond.

AHA officials are hoping the new “hands only” CPR will help increase the number of lives saved by CPR. Currently only 1 in 3 heart attack victims receive CPR before an emergency crew arrives, though it is the ultimate key to survival for hundreds of thousands of people each year, the AHA states.

In addition to providing adequate blood flow to the brain and heart, CPR also increases the amount of time that an electric shock from a defibrillator can be effective, according to the AHA.

Cardiac arrest kills about 900 people in the U.S. each day, according to recent statistics.

Without immediate, effective CPR from a bystander, a person’s chance of surviving sudden cardiac arrest decreases 7 percent to 10 percent per minute, the AHA has said.

When sudden cardiac arrest occurs, the victim collapses, becomes unresponsive to gentle shaking, stops normal breathing and after two rescue breaths still doesn’t breathe normally, cough or move.

Without training, conventional CPR can be complex in terms of mixing in the right amount of chest compression to the right amount of mouth-to-mouth breathing, AHA officials said.

AHA also recognizes that many bystanders are not comfortable with using mouth-to-mouth breathing on strangers, officials have said.

To learn more about Hands Only CPR, visit For more about traditional CPR, visit

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