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Saving Lives: New CPR Guidelines Out Today

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Bystander CPR can double or even triple the odds of survival for a cardiac arrest victim. Credit: Katarzyna Bialasiewicz.
Bystander CPR can double or even triple the odds of survival for a cardiac arrest victim. Credit: Katarzyna Bialasiewicz.
 By John MichaelsonContact
October 15, 2015

BISMARCK, N.D. – Help from a bystander is often the difference between whether a person suffering from cardiac arrest will live or die – and today the latest guidelines on performing CPR are being released.

Kelli Sears, a CPR instructor with the American Heart Association in North Dakota, says while there are some minor changes in the guidelines, the biggest emphasis for the public remains to take action even if you're not formally trained in CPR.

"If you've taken a CPR class and have been taught how to give breaths, then the breaths are still recommended," she says. "And if you don't know CPR and you haven't taken a class, then we just recommend hands-only CPR or compression-only CPR. Push hard and push fast and do something."

Sears says the chest compressions should be done at a rate of 100 to 120 per minute, with the beat of the disco song "Stayin' Alive" a perfect match for the timing. A quick demonstration of hands only CPR can be found at the American Heart Association website.

Sears notes that getting bystanders involved – whether they're calling 911, performing CPR and using an automated external defibrillator if available – is especially critical in North Dakota and other rural states where it can take time for emergency crews to respond.

"Having people who can initiate CPR before an ambulance can arrive or before first responders can arrive is vital in giving a patient any chance of survival in a cardiac arrest situation," she says.

Sears says bystander CPR can double or even triple the odds of survival for those with cardiac arrest, but less than half receive such help. Heart disease is the leading cause of death in North Dakota.

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