Knowing a disco song could help you save a life.
The American Heart Association is teaching a simplified version of CPR that involves performing chest compressions at 100 beats per minute — the tempo of the Bee Gees “Stayin’ Alive.”
That fast tempo will help keep oxygen-rich blood circulating to the victim’s organs until a normal heart rate can be restored.
Most people who suffer cardiac arrest — the abrupt loss of heart function — outside of a hospital will die, but most do not get cardiopulmonary resuscitation, commonly called CPR, said cardiologist Lance LaMotte.
“It could be a heart attack, it could be a lung issue, it could be a drug overdose, any of those things,” says the physician, who is an interventional cardiologist with Baton Rouge Cardiology Center. “Early and effective CPR could be life-saving.”
More than 300,000 people have cardiac arrest outside of a hospital each year, and 92 percent of them die, according to the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Only 33 percent receive CPR from a bystander.
Many people — 70 percent according to an AHA study — are afraid to administer CPR because of the traditional mouth-to-mouth component of the technique.
“They are afraid of hurting people in the process,” Lamotte says, “but realistically, studies show that if you can do it, the chances of injuring people are minimal, and, really, we just want the person to live at least until help arrives.”
The American Heart Association is traveling the country to teach the simpler hands-only technique of CPR, also called chest compression resuscitation, which requires no rescue breathing. Multiple studies have found the hands-only method works just as well or better than the mouth-to-mouth method.
The technique saved the life of 7-year-old Carter Fancher, who survived cardiac arrest earlier this year after his uncle learned hands-only CPR at Zachary High School.
“It was a nightmare that became a miracle,” says Fancher’s grandmother, Melonie Myers, during an AHA training event at the Southern University Ag Center last week.
Carter was playing on a trailer at Myers’ home and became pinned down by a 600-pound steel table. His uncle, Bo Myers, then a 17-year-old ZHS student, found him unconscious and began performing chest compressions. On the sixth or seventh cycle, Carter began crying but never woke until paramedics arrived. He completely recovered and practiced CPR on a dummy during the AHA training.
“Everytime we look at Carter, we see a miracle,” his grandmother says.
The hands-only method requires only three steps:
1. Tap and shout. Shake the unconscious victim and yell, “Are you OK?”
2. Call for help. Direct another person to dial 911.
3. Perform compressions. Push hard and fast on the center of the victim’s chest at 100 beats per minute until help arrives.
Performing forceful chest compressions for the 15 minutes or so it could take an ambulance to arrive can become tiring, says AHA trainer Dionna Chambers, so “it’s important that you and everyone around you know how” so people can take turns keeping someone alive.