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CPR ‘Hands-Only’ Guidelines May Not be best for Rural Areas

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Hands-only CPR (CPR without mouth-to-mouth resuscitation), may not be the best method for rural or remote areas or for anyone who has to wait more than a few minutes for an ambulance, a new study suggests.

New guidelines released by the American Heart Association in 2010 permit the use of simpler hand-only or compression-only CPR in some cases instead of conventional CPR. If ambulances come quickly, experts believe that instructing people to just "push hard, push fast" saves more lives.    

But a literature review by Dr. Aaron Orkin found little evidence to support those guidelines outside of urban settings or in communities with no 911 services. His findings were published in the Scandinavian Journal of Trauma, Resuscitation and Emergency Medicine.    

Of the 10 studies on saving lives with hands-only CPR he reviewed, only one included rural populations and people who had to wait longer than 15 minutes for an ambulance. Some of those studies showed that people who waited longer for ambulances to arrive had a better chance of surviving if mouth-to-mouth breathing was performed as well as chest compressions. 

"Urban studies can't always be applied outside big cities," said Dr. Orkin, a physician and graduate student affiliated with the University of Toronto, the Northern Ontario School of Medicine and Rescu, a St. Michael's Hospital research team dedicated to improving out-of-hospital resuscitation.

"Rural communities might need different CPR recommendations to urban settings," he said.

Dr. Orkin said the study suggests that "push hard, push fast" might be better refined to "push hard, push fast, if you're downtown." 

One in five Canadians and nearly half of the world's population live in rural areas. Even in the most developed and densely populated cities, people can wait longer than 10 or 15 minutes for ambulance services. "If someone is unresponsive, doing any kind of CPR is clearly better than doing nothing," said Dr. Orkin. "But shouldn't CPR guidelines serve everybody, not just people who live a few minutes from an ambulance dispatch station or hospital?"

 

About St. Michael's Hospital

St. Michael's Hospital provides compassionate care to all who enter its doors. The hospital also provides outstanding medical education to future health care professionals in more than 23 academic disciplines. Critical care and trauma, heart disease, neurosurgery, diabetes, cancer care, and care of the homeless are among the Hospital's recognized areas of expertise. Through the Keenan Research Centre and the Li Ka Shing International Healthcare Education Center, which make up the Li Ka Shing Knowledge Institute, research and education at St. Michael's Hospital are recognized and make an impact around the world. Founded in 1892, the hospital is fully affiliated with the University of Toronto. 

 

 

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The Northern Ontario School of Medicine is committed to the education of high quality physicians and health professionals, and to international recognition as a leader in distributed, learning-centered, community-engaged education and research. 

Kimberley Larkin
Communications Officer
Phone: 705-662-7243
Email: klarkin@nosm.ca 

 

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