About 13.3 percent of those who received compression-only CPR survived and were discharged from the hospital compared to only 7.8 percent of those who received conventional CPR, a 60 percent difference. Those who received no bystander CPR at all fared the worst -- only 5.2 percent lived.
Over time, along with public education campaigns encouraging 'hands-only' CPR, the annual rate for bystanders attempting CPR improved from about 28 percent in 2005 to nearly 40 percent in 2009. That rise coincided with the shift to the compression-only technique -- in 2005, only about 20 percent of lay rescuers did compression-only compared to nearly 76 percent in 2009.
Overall survival increased from about 3.7 percent in 2005 to 9.8 percent in 2009, the study authors reported.
About 300,000 Americans per year experience cardiac arrest, in which the heart stops beating, outside of hospital settings. Without CPR to continue to pump blood and oxygen to the brain, death occurs within minutes, Bobrow said.
Without a bystander to step in and start compressions, emergency responders often arrive too late, Bobrow said. And the longer a victim goes without oxygen, the less likely an automated external defibrillator will work to restart the heart rhythm.
But for a variety of reasons, bystanders often fail to act. Some are unsure what to do, afraid of doing CPR wrong or don't want to do mouth-to-mouth breathing. "What we have tried to do with 'hands-only' CPR is take out all the reasons people don't act when they see a cardiac emergency -- fear, panic, indecision, confusion -- out of the equation," Bobrow said. "There is no reason not to try to do hands-only CPR."
That's a crucial message, said Dr. Michael Sayre, an American Heart Association spokesman and associate professor of emergency medicine at Ohio State U
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