You don't have to be certified in cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) to save the life of someone who collapses from sudden cardiac arrest. In fact, the American Heart Association (AHA) has simplified CPR recommendations so that almost any bystander can do CPR using a hands-only method.
If you see an adult suddenly collapse, call 911, then start chest compressions. Put the heel of one hand in the center of the chest, place the other hand on top of it and push hard and fast — about 100 times a minute. Don't stop until help arrives.
Currently, only one in four people who experience sudden cardiac arrest receive CPR from bystanders. Experts believe that many people shy away from doing CPR because they feel uncomfortable with mouth-to-mouth breathing or fear they will cause additional harm.
The AHA says hands-only CPR is safe and works just as well for adults as the conventional technique that alternates rescue breathing with chest compressions.
A five-year program in Arizona that encouraged the hands-only method helped push the rate of bystander involvement from 28 percent in 2005 to 40 percent in 2009.
Even more important, cardiac arrest victims who got hands-only CPR were 1 1/2 times more likely to survive the episode than those who received conventional CPR.
Conventional CPR is still recommended for infants and children, as well as victims of drowning, drug overdose or a collapse due to breathing problems. To see how to save a life with hands-only CPR, watch a brief video online at www.handsonlycpr.org.