You Might Not Have to Make Out During CPR

Two new studies seem to indicate that compression-only CPR is just as effective as compression-plus-forced breathing.

The national average survival rate for heart attacks outside the hospital is about 4% or less, Pepe said, and only a quarter to a third of those who could survive are actually getting CPR, so significant numbers of people could be saved if CPR were used more widely.

Studies in animals have shown that halting chest compressions to blow air into the patient’s mouth reduces blood flow by a startlingly large amount. And the breathing drill, in any case, may not be necessary: For most patients who suffer a heart attack, the blood will contain some oxygen for at least several minutes.

“What we have learned is that continuous blood flow, even if it is not fully [oxygen-] saturated, is probably much better in terms of helping restore spontaneous circulation,” Pepe said.

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