Swedish researchers say compression-only CPR has emerged as an alternative to standard CPR (chest compressions and mouth-to-mouth rescue breaths), and that by simplifying the CPR process, bystanders are now more likely to act.
The study found that the rates of bystander CPR has nearly doubled in the last 18 years, and the rates of compression-only CPR (hands-only CPR) has increased six-fold. Importantly, the study found the chance of survival after a cardiac arrest was doubled for any form of CPR compared with no CPR.
Study author Gabriel Riva said bystanders played an important role in out-of-hospital cardiac arrests, and that their actions are often lifesaving.
“CPR in its simplest form is just chest compressions. Doing only chest compressions doubles the chance of survival, compared to doing nothing.”
Riva noted that current guidelines in Sweden say standard CPR with rescue breaths should only be performed by those trained and able, but that it is unclear if that is better than Hands-Only CPR.
“This is important since CPR performed by bystanders before emergency services arrival is one of the most important factors for surviving an out-of-hospital cardiac arrest. Thus, increasing CPR rates by simplifying the CPR algorithm for bystanders can increase overall survival.”
The researchers say compression-only CPR should therefore be included in CPR guidelines because of its association with increased CPR rates.
The American Heart Association (AHA) says immediate CPR can double, or even triple, the chances of survival after cardiac arrest. They say keeping the blood flow active – even partially – extends the opportunity for a successful resuscitation once trained medical staff arrive on site.
AHA volunteer and paramedic Manny Medina said the general public had become “more and more receptive” to learning the benefits and potential of CPR, particularly the Hands Only CPR method.
“Over the last ten years I continue to hear stories of people of all ages learning CPR and having to put those skills to action to save someone they love. It is so easy to learn and continues to be proven very effective when utilised outside of the hospital.”
The study said more research is needed to answer the question of whether standard CPR with compression and rescue breaths provides a more significant benefit, compared with compression-only CPR in cases in which the bystanders who give aid have had previous CPR training.
More study findings:
- Bystander CPR rates rose from 40.8 percent in 2000-2005 to 58.8 percent in 2006-2010 and then to 68.2 percent in 2011-2017.
- Standard CPR rates were 35.4 percent in the first period, increased to 44.8 percent in the second period and changed to 38.1 percent in the third period.
- Hands-Only CPR increased from 5.4 percent in the first period, increased to 14 percent in the second period and 30.1 percent in the third period.
- Patients receiving standard and Hands-Only CPR were two times more likely to survive 30 days, compared with patients who received no CPR for all time periods.