According to the American Heart Association (AHA), every year, 350,000 people die from cardiac arrest in the United States. Cardiac arrest occurs when the heart can’t pump blood to the brain, lungs and other organs. It can come on suddenly, without warning, or result from other conditions such as coronary artery disease, arrhythmia (an irregular heartbeat) or an enlarged heart (cardiomyopathy).
We all have the power to step in when someone experiences cardiac arrest. The first step, always, is to call 9-1-1. And the second is hands-only CPR. This life-saving technique does not require medical knowledge – almost anyone can do CPR (cardiopulmonary resuscitation). Performing hands-only CPR (which doesn’t include mouth-to-mouth contact) can help keep a person’s blood flowing – even partially. And that blood flow can help keep someone alive until trained medical staff arrive.
CPR is a straightforward, simple, yet efficient method to potentially restore heart function in someone whose heart has stopped. Cardiac arrest occurs when the heart’s electrical system malfunctions causing the sudden loss of heart function, breathing and consciousness. This is different than a heart attack. During a heart attack, a person may experience cardiac arrest. However, a heart attack occurs when a blockage stops blood flow to the heart.
Hands-only CPR does not require mouth-to-mouth contact or rescue breathing like traditional CPR. This means you can fully concentrate on giving chest compressions, which is an important component.
According to research, hands-only CPR treats cardiac arrest just as effectively as traditional CPR. In fact, the AHA advises you to perform hands-only CPR if you cannot or are unable to perform rescue breaths.
“There are many advantages of using hands-only CPR,” says Chastity Lovelace, RN, St. Elizabeth Healthcare’s American Heart Association Training Center Coordinator and instructor. “Because you can do hands-only CPR quickly and right away, it increases the chance that someone may survive cardiac arrest.” In addition, Lovelace says anyone, even young children and older adults, can learn how to perform CPR using only their hands. “It is simple to remember, which increases the likelihood that someone will know how to use it in an emergency.”
Lovelace says there are other benefits to knowing how to perform hands-only CPR.
- It fosters bystander intervention, meaning more individuals can do CPR in an emergency. And the earlier CPR begins, the better the chances of survival.
- Its simplicity often doubles or triples a person’s chance of survival when performed immediately after cardiac arrest.
As an interventional cardiologist with St. Elizabeth Healthcare, DP Suresh, MD, encourages everyone to learn hands-only CPR. “It really is a simple and effective technique that can help save a life,” Dr. Suresh says. “Taking an AHA certified class will teach you how to push hard, push fast and compress the chest at least two inches. It’s important to learn how to perform these chest compressions at a rate of 100 to 120 per minute.”
Learn more about hands-only CPR and the other vital skills offered at the St. Elizabeth Healthcare American Heart Association Training Center by contacting us at AHAtraining@stelizabeth.com or 859-655-1606.
The Center also provides CPR and Emergency Cardiac Care (ECC) instruction, such as Basic Life Support (BLS), Advanced Cardiac Life Support (ACLS), Pediatric Advanced Life Support (PALS), HeartSaver programs and Bloodborne Pathogen classes.