2012: CPR guidelines have changed

Studies and experience have modified over time the procedures now recommended for CPR and they may not be the same as how you were once trained.

A major revision to layperson-administered CPR involves checking the victim’s pulse before beginning chest compressions.

Guidelines published in the Journal of the American Heart Association, recommend that laypersons do not check for a pulse before starting chest compressions on an unconscious person. The reason for the change comes from scientific evidence, which shows that at least one-third of lay rescuers are wrong about whether a victim has a pulse.

The Mayo Clinic, in its public advisory, suggests the bottom line is that “it’s far better to do something than to do nothing at all if you’re fearful that your knowledge or abilities aren’t 100 percent complete. Remember, the difference between your doing something and doing nothing could be someone’s life.”

The American Heart Association adopted new CPR science guidelines in November 2005. These guidelines are the basis for teaching CPR. Here’s the latest advice from the American Heart Association:

If you’re not trained in CPR, then provide hands-only CPR. That means uninterrupted chest presses of about two per second until paramedics arrive (described in more detail below). You don’t need to try rescue breathing.

Trained, and ready to go. If you’re well trained, and confident in your ability, then you can opt for one of two approaches: 1. Alternate between 30 chest compressions and two rescue breaths, or 2. Just do chest compressions.

Trained, but rusty. If you’ve previously received CPR training, but you’re not confident in your abilities, then it’s fine to do just chest compressions.

The above advice applies only to adults needing CPR, not to children.

CPR can keep oxygenated blood flowing to the brain and other vital organs until more definitive medical treatment can restore a normal heart rhythm.

It is now widely recommend that everyone take a CPR course. The bottom line is that CPR saves lives.

Also frequently recommended is the use of automated external defibrillators. In Arizona, AEDs are becoming more common in public places. You will find them on the street in Uptown Sedona, in Cottonwood schools and at Sky Harbor Airport.

Although automated external defibrillators are extremely easy to use, some basic knowledge is required.

Courses for CPR and AEDs are common. Check with your local fire department for schedules.

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