Is Mouth-to-Mouth Breathing Required in CPR?

Is Mouth-to-Mouth Breathing Required in CPR? on

Why “hands-only” CPR is gaining popularity Why “hands-only” CPR is gaining popularity

If you were at home or out at a restaurant, and someone collapsed from sudden cardiac arrest, would you know what to do? According to American Heart Association statistics, “70 percent of Americans may feel helpless to act during a cardiac emergency because they either do not know how to administer CPR or their training has significantly lapsed.”

In case you don’t know, cardiac arrest occurs when the “heart’s electrical system malfunctions,” causing irregular heartbeat rhythms. It is different from a heart attack, which is caused by a blockage or narrowing of an artery to the heart, although a heart attack can lead to cardiac arrest.

Why knowing CPR is so important … for everyone

For decades, medical professionals and organizations like the American Heart Association have taught the benefits of cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR), a technique that uses a combination of chest compressions and mouth-to-mouth breathing that has been shown to save lives. CPR can be especially critical in the case of cardiac events that happen at home or anywhere outside of a hospital, keeping the person alive until an ambulance arrives.

Look at these stats from the American Heart Association:

  • Nearly 383,000 out-of-hospital sudden cardiac arrests occur annually
  • Four out of five cardiac arrests (88%) happen at home
  • Less than 8% of people who suffer cardiac arrest outside the hospital survive
  • Effective bystander CPR provided immediately after sudden cardiac arrest can double or triple a victim’s chance of survival

A new type of CPR

In the last several years, a new type of CPR has emerged, which focuses on “hands-only” compressions, with no “mouth-to-mouth” resuscitation (rescue breaths). “Hands-only” is now gaining popularity, with even the American Heart Association touting the potential benefits. The aim of the initiative is to teach the public that untrained rescuers (bystanders) can still perform CPR, emphasizing that people should first call 911 and then provide chest compressions.

The theory is that most bystanders who see a person go into cardiac arrest aren’t trained in how to do mouth-to-mouth resuscitation or may even be reluctant to put their mouths directly onto a stranger’s. Chest-only compressions can give a bystander enough confidence to start giving CPR right away, which can make a difference in saving lives.

Hands-only CPR can work in certain circumstances because when a person first goes into cardiac arrest, his or her body still has plenty of oxygen. Chest compressions work by keeping the oxygen circulating, thus helping to minimize possible brain damage.

How to perform hands-only CPR

According to the American Heart Association “If you see a teen or adult suddenly collapse, call 911 and then push hard and fast in the center of the chest to the beat of any tune that is 100 to 120 beats per minute.”

Note: A recommended song with the right “beat” is Stayin’ Alive by the Bee Gees. 

You can watch several PSA instructional videos on “hands only” CPR here

When hands-only CPR should NOT be applied

While chest compressions alone can help save lives, this method should only be used on adults or teens experiencing a specific type of cardiac arrest.

Hands-only CPR is NOT recommended for…

Child and infant CPR Pediatric cardiac arrest is generally related to respiratory failure, where the infant or child stops breathing for some reason. By the time  cardiac arrest occurs, the oxygen levels are likely already depleted. CPR with rescue breaths becomes critical in these cases.

Respiratory failure leading to cardiac arrest – This is more likely to occur in cases of drowning, overdose, choking, trauma, or sudden illness, like a severe allergic reaction or asthma that restricts the airways. Here, oxygen levels can become depleted before the heart stops, so rescue breaths are necessary.

A cardiac arrest you don’t witness – If you didn’t see the person collapse, it is impossible to tell how long he or she may have been lying there. It’s more likely oxygen has become depleted so rescue breaths would be necessary.

Now that you know the importance of CPR, and a method of performing “hand-only” compressions if you witness a cardiac arrest, you can be better prepared to help save a life. For more information on individual, group, or company CPR training, contact us today.