The Changing Approach to CPR
The American Heart Association re-arranged the ABCs of cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) in its 2010 American Heart Association Guidelines for Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation and Emergency Cardiovascular Care, published in Circulation: Journal of the American Heart Association.
A-B-C Changed to C-A-B
Recommending that chest compressions be the first step for lay and professional rescuers to revive victims of sudden cardiac arrest, the association said the A-B-Cs (Airway-Breathing-Compressions) of CPR should now be changed to C-A-B (Compressions-Airway-Breathing).
"For more than 40 years, CPR training has emphasized the ABCs of CPR, which instructed people to open a victim's airway by tilting their head back, pinching the nose and breathing into the victim's mouth, and only then giving chest compressions," said Michael Sayre, MD, co-author of the guidelines and chairman of the American Heart Association's Emergency Cardiovascular Care (ECC) Committee.
"This approach was causing significant delays in starting chest compressions, which are essential for keeping oxygen-rich blood circulating through the body. Changing the sequence from A-B-C to C-A-B for adults and children allows all rescuers to begin chest compressions right away."
Begin Chest Compressions Right Away
In previous guidelines, the association recommended looking, listening and feeling for normal breathing before starting CPR. Now, compressions should be started immediately on anyone who is unresponsive and not breathing normally.
All victims in cardiac arrest need chest compressions. In the first few minutes of a cardiac arrest, victims will have oxygen remaining in their lungs and bloodstream, so starting CPR with chest compressions can pump that blood to the victim's brain and heart sooner. Research shows that rescuers who started CPR with opening the airway took 30 critical seconds longer to begin chest compressions than rescuers who began CPR with chest compressions.
The change in the CPR sequence applies to adults, children and infants, but excludes newborns.
Recommendations for Performing CPR
Other recommendations, based mainly on research published since the last AHA resuscitation guidelines in 2005:
- During CPR, rescuers should give chest compressions a little faster, at a rate of at least 100 times a minute.
- Rescuers should push deeper on the chest, compressing at least two inches in adults and children and 1.5 inches in infants.
- Between each compression, rescuers should avoid leaning on the chest to allow it to return to its starting position.
- Rescuers should avoid stopping chest compressions and avoid excessive ventilation.
- All 9-1-1 centers should assertively provide instructions over the telephone to get chest compressions started when cardiac arrest is suspected.
"This is the most significant change in CPR protocol in over 20 years," said Dr. Joseph Kannam, a cardiologist at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center's CardioVascular Institute and past president of the Greater Boston Board of Directors for the American Heart Association. "It is becoming clear that chest compressions done correctly and quickly are the most effective part of CPR, they are easy to learn. We should be making a significant effort to train as many people as possible."
Since 2008, the American Heart Association has recommended that untrained bystanders use Hands-Only CPR - CPR without breaths - for an adult victim who suddenly collapses. The steps to Hands-Only CPR are simple: call 9-1-1 and push hard and fast on the center of the chest until professional help or an AED arrives.
Pediatric Advanced Life Support Guidelines
Pediatric advanced life support (PALS) guidelines provide new information about resuscitating infants and children with certain congenital heart diseases and pulmonary hypertension, and emphasize organizing care around two-minute periods of uninterrupted CPR.
History of Guidelines
The CPR and ECC guidelines are science-based recommendations for treating cardiovascular emergencies - particularly sudden cardiac arrest in adults, children, infants and newborns. The American Heart Association established the first resuscitation guidelines in 1966.
Above content provided by the American Heart Association in partnership with the CardioVascular Institute at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center. For advice about your medical care, consult your doctor.
Posted January 2013