Main Content

Lend Your Hands Before Your Mouth

hands on the chest

Many people are reluctant to learn CPR (cardiopulmonary resuscitation), because they imagine themselves giving mouth-to-mouth to a complete stranger.

For instance, what if a drug-addict who may be HIV positive falls at your feet? Or a 350-pound man with a mouth still half-full of garlicky pasta?

Well, here’s good news: Mouth free CPR. Two studies published in the “New England Journal of Medicine” suggest that in most cases CPR with mouth-to-mouth may not be the most effective treatment.

Especially in cases of cardiac arrest, it’s at least as effective, and may actually better, to use both hands pressing on the chest in a hard quick rhythm. (Chest compressions should be timed to a disco beat, like the Bee Gees “Staying Alive.”)

First, check to see if the person is breathing, and if a pulse can be detected; then start pressing on the person’s chest with both hands (uh, uh, uh, uh, stayin’ alive!).

The reason rescue breaths need not be administered at first is that the body retains enough oxygen to keep the person alive for several minutes. That oxygen is of no use, however, unless it’s circulated by a beating heart or chest compressions.

Studies have actually found that CCR (chest compression resuscitation) is slightly more effective than traditional CPR.

Researchers speculated that those administering CCR provided a more consistent form of therapy than those switching back and forth between chest compression and mouth-to-mouth ventilation.

The patients in these studies were all adults. Traditional CPR is required for children who suffer cardiac arrest, or drowning victims. Traditional CPR should also be used with those who have chronic lung disease or asthma.

Skip to content