A Bee Gees Hit May Save a Life

Sudden cardiac arrest victims can be saved with Hands Only CPR to the beat of Stayin Alive

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

(RxWiki News) Because this is National CPR Awareness Week (June 3-8), the American Heart Association is encouraging people to learn a simple two-step hands-only technique that can save a life.

When someone collapses with sudden cardiac arrest (SCA), their heart has unexpectedly stopped beating. Fast action is required to keep that individual alive.

First, call 9-1-1. Second, immediately start to push hard and fast in the center of the chest to the beat of the Bee Gees’ song "Stayin’ Alive."

Through the Hands-Only CPR approach, you can double or triple a person’s chances of survival, according to the American Heart Association (AHA).

"Learn Hands-Only CPR to save a person who’s heart has stopped."

Alson Inaba, MD, a professor at the John A. Burns School of Medicine (JABSOM) at the University of Hawaii at Manoa, created the new life-saving technique.

“A few years ago, when I was teaching a CPR (cardiopulmonary resuscitation) class, it occurred to me that a familiar song’s beat would be an easy and fun way for people to remember the correct rhythm for CPR chest compressions, and make them feel more confident doing it,” said Dr. Inaba.

The Bees Gees’ hit song "Stayin’ Alive" has more than 100 beats per minute, which is the rate you should push on the chest during Hands-Only CPR.

For every minute that goes by without intervention, the survival rate of someone having sudden cardiac arrest drops by as much as 10 percent.

The AHA had recommended a CPR protocol using chest compressions and mouth-to-mouth “rescue breathing.”

Lip-locking with a stranger, however, made some people uncomfortable and many did not know how to correctly perform mouth-to-mouth.

After researching CPR techniques, the AHA found that Hands-Only CPR is as effective as conventional mouth-to-mouth CPR, and people are more likely to feel comfortable performing it.

A December 2012 study published in the AHA journal Circulation reported that chest compression-only CPR performed by bystanders kept more people alive with good brain function after having a sudden cardiac arrest.

In 2012, the AHA teamed with the WellPoint Foundation to launch a three-year campaign to educate Americans on how to use the Hands-Only CPR approach.

An interactive Hands-Only CPR mobile tour will visit at least 24 cities across the country through Fall 2014. The aim of the tour is to teach thousands of people the easy steps to save a life.

The National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute stresses that sudden cardiac arrest is not the same as a heart attack. A heart attack occurs if blood flow to part of the heart muscle is blocked. During a heart attack, the heart usually doesn't suddenly stop beating. Sudden cardiac arrest, however, may happen after or during recovery from a heart attack. People who have heart disease are at higher risk for SCA.

National CPR Awareness Week runs until June 8th. The American Heart Association Hands-Only CPR campaign and mobile tour is supported by a $4.5 million grant from the WellPoint Foundation. To learn more about Hands-Only CPR, visit the American Heart Association website.

Reviewed by: 
Review Date: 
June 6, 2013
Last Updated:
August 7, 2013