Machines Not Better at CPR

Cardiac arrest survival equal among people given CPR by a person versus a machine

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Robert Carlson, M.D Beth Bolt, RPh

(RxWiki News) When someone’s heart stops, cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) may save his or her life. Both CPR machines and people can perform CPR to help keep the heart pumping.

A recent clinical trial tested the use of a CPR machine versus manual CPR on a group of patients experiencing cardiac arrest.

The results of the trial showed almost identical rates of saved lives and normal brain function after being treated with CPR from a machine versus manual CPR.

"Learn how to perform CPR."

Sten Rubertsson, MD, PhD, of Uppsala University in Sweden, led this investigation into manual CPR versus mechanical CPR for treating cardiac arrest.

When a person’s heart stops beating, usually from a heart attack or drowning, CPR may be used to keep oxygen-filled blood pumping throughout the body.

To perform CPR manually, a person places his or her hands together, locks elbows and uses his or her body weight to compress the chest to manually pump the heart.

The LUCAS Chest Compression system is a type of mechanical CPR device used by some ambulance operators or emergency medical technicians (EMTs). In conjunction with the mechanical CPR device, a defibrillator may be used to send electrical energy to the heart.

For this clinical trial, the researchers randomly selected ambulance operators in Sweden, England and The Netherlands to use manual CPR or perform CPR with a compression device and defibrillation machine.

From 2008 to 2013, a total of 2,589 cardiac arrest patients were followed for at least six months after receiving CPR before reaching the hospital.

Overall, 23.6 percent of patients lived at least four hours after being treated with mechanical CPR and defibrillator devices, and 23.7 percent of patients lived after receiving manual CPR.

Patients were assessed for any brain damage with Cerebral Performance Category scores. A score of a 1 or 2 was considered a good outcome. Among the 208 patients who lived at least six months after experiencing cardiac arrest, 99 percent of those treated with the mechanical device and 94 percent of those treated with manual CPR had good scores.

The authors of this study concluded that there was no difference between the two treatment groups in terms of living at least four hours after cardiac arrest or having good neurological outcomes six months after treatment.

This study was published in November in JAMA.

Uppsala University and Physio-Control/Jolife AB, makers of the LUCAS Chest Compression system, provided funding for this project. Dr. Rubertsson reported a financial relationship with Physio-Control.

Review Date: 
November 18, 2013
Last Updated:
November 19, 2013