Hands Only CPR works

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Back in 1960, doctors wrote about the first 14 lives saved with chest compressions. Now, fifty years later, new CPR guidelines published yesterday by the American Heart Association (AHA) reinforce the importance of this life-saving technique.

For lay, untrained bystanders, AHA gave the go-ahead two years ago for “Hands Only CPR.” Your instructions: push hard and fast at the center of the chest. Don't take direction from ER or House. Keep pace with the Bee Gees Staying Alive and compress the chest two inches. Need a reminder: AHA has a youtube video and smart phone app.

For anyone with formal CPR training, the new guidelines emphasize chest compressions over respiration. Instead of airway-breathing-circulation, the long-term ABC mnemonic, it's now C-A-B.

And, if you can find an Automated External Defibrillator, omnipresent in airports, sports clubs, and ski patrol shacks, use it. They are simple and require no training.

For the science wonks, check out the full report in Circulation.

–Christopher Van Tilburg, MD

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