CPR in Canada releases guidelines to 'push fast and push hard'

Posted Oct 18, 2010 by KJ Mullins
Canada released new emergency care guidelines for performing cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) today in the 2010 Guidelines for Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation (CPR) and Emergency Cardiovascular Care (ECC).
CPR being performed on a mannequin during training
CPR being performed on a mannequin during training
The first step now is to call 911 if you find a person who is collapsed and unresponsive, and not to delay by 'looking, listening and feeling' for breathing or pulse.
In the past people were told to remember how many compressions and how many breaths were doing during CPR; now rescuers are asked to just "push fast and push hard."
"Many people hold back from doing CPR because they are afraid they may do it wrong or that they may hurt the person," says Dr. Andrew Travers in a press release. "We want to make it clear that technique is less important than doing chest compressions quickly and firmly.
"Think of the '70s Bee Gees song Stayin' Alive and that will give you an idea of how fast compressions should be done."
When it comes to CPR be forceful to insure that blood is flowing.
"Think about moving the heel of your hands up and down about two inches into the chest - or the height of your pinky finger," says Dr. Travers. "We want people to know that they can make a difference, even just by taking these simple actions. But doing something - including making that 9-1-1 call immediately - is crucially important."
The guidelines are reviewed every five years with updates only when it is clear that changes need to take place in order to save lives.
In the past rescue breathing was the second step after calling for help and then chest compressions. Today the guideline is to make the call and then push hard before starting rescue breathing. The speed of getting blood flow back is a significant factor in reducing brain and heart damage following cardiac arrest.
"We recognize that compressions are fundamental key building blocks - other things are important, but not as important as compression, and that is why we changed the order," says Travers.
"These changes will help break down some of the barriers that keep people from doing CPR if they are faced with a cardiac emergency," says Linda Piazza, director of health policy and research with the Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada.
While many Canadians want to help only 40 percent would attempt to revive a victim of Cardiac arrest, according to a survey by The Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada.
"Many Canadians want to help if they are ever faced with this type of situation, especially given the fact that four out of five cardiac arrests occur at home or in public places," she notes. "The changes announced today make CPR easier to learn, easier to do and we believe will make Canadians more likely to step in and respond to a cardiac emergency."
When CPR is performed right away the chances of surviving a cardiac arrest are almost four times greater. When CPR is combined with an Automated External Defibrillator (AED) the odds of survival shot up to 50 percent.
Without CPR those who have a cardiac arrest outside of a hospital setting only 5 percent will survive.
"Although barriers cited include lack of confidence, fear of failure and potentially injuring the victim, the reality is, that you can't help if you don't try - you can't hurt the cardiac arrest victim, if they don't live to see another day - and without CPR, that is the likely outcome," says Travers.