New CPR triples survival

March 12, 2008 8:05:30 PM PDT
Arizona paramedics are using a different resuscitation method for cardiac arrest victims, and it's tripled their survival.

So says an article in the March 12 issue of Journal of the American Medical Association.

When they reach a victim, instead of giving breaths, paramedics immediately give 200 quick chest compressions.

Then they shock the heart with an electrical defibrillator.

The method is designs to limit interruptions of chest compressions, called MICR - minimally interrupted cardiac resuscitation.

The method keeps the heart pumping blood through the body, particularly to the brain, which is critical for survival.

Dr. Bentley J. Bobrow, of Mayo Clinic, Scottsdale, Ariz., and colleagues investigated whether MICR would improve survival from out-of-hospital cardiac arrest. They trained EMS teams in 2 Arizona cities, and 60 additional fire departments, then compared their survival rates with those who did not receive MICR training.

The authors wrote, "Although early defibrillation with automated external defibrillators improves survival, early defibrillation is rare and few patients with out-of-hospital cardiac arrest survive. In 2004, the average survival of patients with out-of-hospital cardiac arrest was 3 percent in the state of Arizona."

After the training, survival rose from 4.7 per cent to 17.6 per cent.

The American Heart Association says it needs to see more research before it changes official guidelines.