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Life-saving Made Simple

Heart disease is the number 1 killer of both men and women in the United States.


As you all know a healthy lifestyle that includes a well balanced diet, regular exercise, low levels of alcohol, strategies that lower or help deal with stress, and no tobacco among other factors can significantly lower your risk. Unfortunately, some of the people you spend time with and care about may not live such a healthy lifestyle. And even those that do know that there are no guarantees.


With over 1,200,000 heart attacks per year, it is likely that at some time in your lifetime you may witness an attack, and maybe to someone you care about.  Traditional CPR classes recommend both mouth to mouth breathing and chest compression to treat a heart attack victim with no pulse. Two recent studies suggest that the first aid for a heart attack victim may be simpler than once thought. Both studies published in the July 29th issue of the New England Journal of Medicine found that chest compressions alone, without mouth to mouth breathing, are actually more effective than with them. The effect wasn’t significant and if someone used mouth to mouth because that is how they have been taught, that’s ok too. But without question these studies along with some previous ones demonstrate the benefit of just doing chest compression.  


Dr. Thomas Rea, Medical Director of the Emergency Medical Services of Public Health for Seattle and King County in Washington, and lead author of one of the studies commented, “Chest compressions are paramount. You can make a life and death difference by providing chest compressions. You don’t have to be perfect; all you can provide is benefit. Your actions might save a life.” Some people may be reluctant to help a victim because they haven’t take a CPR course and don’t feel qualified. But according to Dr Dana Peres Edelson, Director of Clinical Research at the Emergency Resuscitation Center at the University of Chicago, “If you haven’t been trained in CPR, just start doing chest compression as fast as you possibly can”. 


To learn more about how you can become certified in CPR, visit the American Heart Association’s website.

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