No Rescue Breathing Required

Compression only CPR boosts survival with good brain function

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Joseph V. Madia, MD

(RxWiki News) Bystanders don't have to be trained in cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) to lend a hand in a sudden emergency. Researchers have found that giving chest compressions while skipping rescue breathing is still effective.

In fact, CPR recipients were more likely to survive with good brain function if they received chest compression-only CPR as compared to traditional CPR with chest compressions and rescue breathing.

"Take the time to learn CPR, it could save a life!"

Taku Iwami, MD, PhD, study lead author and senior lecturer in the Department of Preventive Services at Kyoto University School of Public Health in Japan, said that initiating CPR and shocks from a publicly accessible automated external defibrillator (AED) early are key to saving lives after cardiac arrest.

Like in the United States, portable AEDs are commonly available in public areas such as shopping malls in Japan, where the research took place. AEDs shocks can reestablish a heartbeat.

Sudden cardiac arrest occurs when the heart suddenly stops functioning, often because of an abnormal heart rhythm. Patients must receive immediate CPR and defibrillator shocks for the best chance at surviving.

During the study investigators reviewed the records of 1,376 Japanese patients who experienced sudden cardiac arrest between 2005 and 2009. In each case, bystanders witnessed the cardiac arrest and provided CPR and AED shocks to the affected individual. About 37 percent of the patients received compression-only CPR, while 63 percent received traditional CPR.

One month later, 46 percent of the compression-only patients were still alive compared to 40 percent who received traditional CPR. Additionally, 41 percent of compression-only patients retained good brain function versus 33 percent of traditional CPR patients.

In addition to the favorable outcomes, Dr. Iwami recommends hands-only CPR because it is easier to learn. Also, some people are uncomfortable with mouth-to-mouth breathing.

“Rescue breathing is difficult for some people to perform and might interrupt chest compressions,” he said. “Most victims don’t receive any CPR, so we need to encourage chest compression-only CPR and public access defibrillation programs.”

The American Heart Association suggests that bystanders perform hands-only CPR by pushing hard and fast in the center of the chest if they see an adult suddenly collapse. The organization recommends that infants and children receive traditional CPR that includes rescue breathing.

The study was recently published in Circulation: Journal of the American Heart Association.

Reviewed by: 
Review Date: 
December 7, 2012
Last Updated:
February 16, 2013