Learn when your hands alone may be enough to help a heart attack victim.
You see it in movies and on TV: a person suffers a heart attack, and a concerned bystander begins to blow air into the victim’s mouth. This emergency treatment was long the norm for performing cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR). But that’s not always the case today, experts say. Since February is American Heart Month, it’s a good time to take a look at hands-only CPR, which can also be a lifesaver.
How is it done?
With hands-only CPR, the person performing the emergency care pushes down on the center of the patient’s chest. The American Heart Association (AHA) says an easy way to recall the proper rhythm is to think of the beat of the ‘70s song “Stayin' Alive". But even before getting down to pump on the victim’s chest emergency, you or someone else on the scene should call 911.
When should it be used?
Hands-only CPR is in order when the victim collapse suddenly in front of you outside of a medical setting. The AHA offers these further instructions for carrying out this kind of CPR:
- Strive for 100 chest compressions per minute, with minimal interruptions.
- If you get tired and someone else is on the scene, have him or her take over.
- Keep up the compression until help arrives, unless the victim moves, speaks, or begins to breathe normally.
How is it effective?
Hands-only CPR is effective because heart-attack victims usually still have enough oxygen in their blood system to breath for several minutes. Your chest-pumping helps get that oxygen to the heart and brain. But there are still times when mouth-to-mouth breathing should be part of CPR:
- if the victim is an infant or child
- if the victim is already unconscious when you arrive on the scene
- If the person is the victim of a drowning, has overdosed on drugs, or has collapsed because of breathing problems
Learning both forms of CPR is a good idea, so you can be ready for any emergency—especially if you have an infant. That’s why HCA East Florida offers free classes on how to perform CPR on infants. Call our free Consult-A-Nurse® service at 1-866-442-2362 to find one near you.