Food for Thought
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Spring 2008

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Learn New "Hands-Only CPR" in One MInute—Right Here

Take a Minute to Save a Life


By Terry Dunkle, DietPower Founder and CEO

Sometime, perhaps when you least expect it, a friend, relative, co-worker, or perhaps a stranger, may go into cardiac arrest. This happens 350,000 times a year in the United States. Sadly, only 6 percent of the victims survive.

The survival rate would double, however, if everyone knew how to perform Hands-Only CPR, the new procedure recommended two weeks ago by the American Heart Association.

Unlike old-fashioned CPR, the new version doesn't ask you to blow your breath into the victim's mouth. Instead, you concentrate solely on pumping the victim's chest with your hands.

According to seven major studies published since 1997, Hands-Only CPR is just as effective as the old method. {Editor's note, added in October 2010: The most recent study, published this month, shows that the new procedure actually improves a victim's survival chances by 22 percent over the traditional method.] The reason is simple: When the heart stops, the blood still contains four to six minutes' supply of oxygen. Hence, during the critical period when emergency help is rushing to the scene, it's more important to keep the blood circulating than to replenish the lungs with air. In fact, pausing every 30 strokes to deliver two puffs of air (the old procedure) may actually hurt the victim's chances.

Obviously, if the victim stopped breathing more than six minutes ago or succumbed to drowning or asphyxiation, the oxygen will have diminished and the new method may be more likely to fail. The same may be true in children, where cardiac arrest usually stems from choking or asthma.

Nevertheless, authorities say, Hands-Only CPR is always better than doing nothing.

To Perform Hands-Only CPR:

  1. Call 911—or better yet, ask someone else to call.
  2. Immediately place the heel of one hand in the middle of the victim's chest, just above the tip of the breastbone (as shown in the photo above).
  3. Place your other hand on top of the first.
  4. Push sharply down—enough to depress the chest 1-1/2 to 2 inches. Don't be timid. You may need to apply half your weight if you're of average build. (Yes, this may crack a rib, but that's better than pumping too weakly to move the blood.)
  5. Repeat the pumping action 100 times a minute. (How fast is that? If you count seconds by saying "One thousand one, one thousand two," it's about two thrusts per second—one on every thou- and one on every number. Or imagine that you are beating time to the famous Bee Gee lyrics: "Ah! ha! ha! ha! Stayin' alive!")
  6. Continue until emergency workers or a defibrillator arrives.

Now, read those steps again while picturing yourself doing them—or watch this video. Then you'll be ready when it's your turn to save a life.

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