How Continuous Chest Compression saves lives
How Stuff Works: CPR is getting a makeover, and it no longer requires formal training. The new technique is called Continuous Chest Compression, or CCC, and is a simpler way of saving lives.
Imagine that you are walking down a city street and a person collapses in front of you. He is having a heart attack, and he needs instant assistance. What are you going to do?
For decades the technique known as CPR (Cardio Pulmonary Resuscitation) has been the technique to use. CPR has saved thousands of lives in situations just like this. It was invented by Peter Safar and has been heavily promoted since the 1960s. Millions of people have gone through training classes with the Red Cross and other organizations. But CPR is now getting a face lift, and it no longer requires formal training. The new technique is called Continuous Chest Compression, or CCC.
CPR has been able to save so many lives because is immediately solves the biggest problem that occurs during a heart attack. In a large number of heart attacks, the heart is still perfectly functional. It has not died, nor has it ruptured. It simply has gotten confused and has started fibrillating instead of beating. You can think of a healthy heart as a big muscle that contracts in a useful way about once every second. A fibrillating heart has lost that rhythm, and instead is a muscle that is uselessly quivering.
If an electronic defibrillator is available, it can often shock a quivering heart back to its senses so that it regains its rhythm. But often it will take several minutes for a defibrillator to arrive on the ambulance or the EMT truck. Those few minutes are crucial, because brain cells die quickly without oxygen. CPR is a technique designed to keep the brain from dying until professional help and equipment can arrive.
Traditional CPR has two parts. The Cardio part of CPR tries to duplicate the beating action of the heart with chest compressions. The compressions move blood through the arteries and veins and keep some blood flowing to the brain. The Pulmonary part of CPR tries to duplicate breathing. The rescuer blows air into the victim's lungs using mouth-to-mouth resuscitation.
While CPR undoubtedly helps and has saved many lives, it is not without its problems. For one thing it is fairly complex — so complex that it requires a formal training class several hours long. That limits the number of people who can perform CPR. Second, it requires a number of actions and decisions. Is the heart beating or not? Is the person breathing or not? Is the airway obstructed? Is the person gasping, and if so what does that mean? There is also the mouth-to-mouth part, which makes some people legitimately uncomfortable.
The new technique, called CCC or Continuous Chest Compression, is designed to provide a simpler, streamlined technique. It is so simple, in fact, that you can learn how to do it by watching a short video on YouTube. If a person collapses and will not respond, you begin the technique, the steps are straightforward.
First you have someone else call 911 and find a defibrillator. Portable defibrillators have gotten so inexpensive that you can now find them in many office buildings and public places. You are basically racing against time, so immediately contacting professionals is important.
Next, roll the victim onto his or her back. Put the heel of one hand down on the chest between the nipples. Put the heel of the second hand on top of the first, and interlock your fingers. Line your shoulders up over your hands and lock your elbows. Now you are ready to compress. Use the weight of your torso through your shoulders and locked elbows to compress the victim's chest. Then immediately release your weight so the victim's chest springs back up. Do this rapidly, about 100 times per minute, until professional help arrives.
The only thing you do is pump on the chest until professional help arrives. You do it even if the person is gasping.
The chest compressions move enough oxygen to the brain, because the oxygen is already in the body. Studies have shown CCC to be more effective than traditional CPR, possibly because it is much easier to remember and administer, and anyone can do it. Just start pumping.
Look on YouTube for videos that explain the CCC technique and demonstrate how to perform it. A couple minutes of your time may allow you to save someone's life.
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