Hands Only CPR

      Comments Off on Hands Only CPR

Nearly every class I teach or presentation I make on Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation, someone asks about the “new change to Hands-only CPR.”

Hands-only CPR is a rather new technique for anyone untrained in regular CPR.  Medicine and science continue to advance ways to improve the chances of survival.  Full CPR (chest compressions and breathing) remains the most effective way to help a victim get to Advanced Life Support at a hospital or for a Paramedic/EMT to begin Advanced Life Support on-scene.

Science proved there is enough residual oxygen in the air “trapped” in the lungs after a victim stops breathing to provide oxygen to the brain and heart if it is taken into the bloodstream and circulated through the system via effective chest compressions mimicking the heart’s rhythm.  Hands-only CPR can add about three minutes of life support to a victim which in many cases will be enough time for a trained provider to take over.

The brain rapidly begins to deteriorate after 3 minutes without breathing support and may suffer irreversible damage or death.

Hands-only CPR is a simple method for the “untrained” public to provide immediate assistance and support for a victim of sudden collapse, usually due to Sudden Cardiac Arrest.  Damar Hamlin and Bronny James are well known athletes who have suffered this and were revived with the help of coaches and EMTs.  This immediate cardiac support most likely saved their lives.

You can’t diagnose the victim, but here is a quick explanation for heart attack versus sudden cardiac arrest.  A heart attack is a problem with the plumbing of the heart.  Often the arteries of the heart are partially blocked with plaque and susceptible to a sudden complete blockage by plaque or clotting.  The muscle past the block will begin to starve for oxygen and die.  Usually this is irreversible outside of Advanced Life Support in the hospital. 

Sudden Cardiac Arrest (SCA) is an electrical problem.  The heartbeat is a response to an electrical charge within an area of the heart “firing”.  In SCA, this becomes chaotic and does not allow the muscle (heart) to properly pump.  This immediate loss of heartbeat causes both the heart and breathing to stop.  Without immediate response from bystanders providing effective chest compressions, they will succumb to the loss of oxygen to the cells of the heart and brain.

CPR success is not as high for a heart attack as it is for SCA.  We can mimic the heartbeat, but we can’t unplug a clogged artery on the street or in the office.  Still, in both cases, TRY TO SAVE THEM WITH COMPRESSIONS!

Hands-only CPR is simple and effective.  Place your hands in the center of the chest and push hard and fast!  You are trying to compress the chest about 2” on an adult at a rate of 100-120 beats per minute.  Sing the song “Staying Alive” out loud or to yourself.  That is the rate you want to have.

We offer this simple explanation to any of our audiences when presenting an overview of our services.  We also offer a 30-minute class with practical work on CPR manikins for experience in the “effective compressions” needed.