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Study: Bad CPR better than none

Seasoned emergency workers said they were not surprised by the study’s findings

By Randy Tucker
Dayton Daily News

CINCINNATI, Ohio — Your chances of surviving a heart attack are greatly enhanced if a bystander is willing and able to perform CPR, but most people — even those with training — do not perform CPR correctly, according to a new study by clinical researchers at the University of Cincinnati Medical Center.

Researchers found that most of the 50 randomly selected visitors to UC’s Medical Center emergency department who participated in the study failed to apply proper compression to the chest at the proper pace to keep blood flowing to the brain.

Among the group, 60 percent of participants reported having received CPR training at some point in their lives.

“Although traditional CPR classes emphasize pushing hard and fast, our subjects almost universally pushed too slow and too soft,” said Dr. Jason McMullan, one of the researchers and an assistant professor of emergency medicine at UC.

Seasoned emergency workers said they were not surprised by the study’s findings, but they emphasized that even poorly administered CPR is better than taking no action at all.

“Really top-notch CPR greatly increases survival rates, however, not-so-good CPR is better than no CPR at all,” said David Gerstner, senior paramedic with the Dayton Fire Department.

Gerstner said even the best-trained layman is unlikely to deliver proper CPR in an emergency because of the stress of the situation.

“It is more challenging to do in real life than it is in a classroom, particularly since it’s likely to be someone close to you,” he said.

When it comes to assisting strangers, many people are reluctant to perform CPR because they’re afraid of being sued or they’re simply “grossed-out” by the prospect of performing mouth-to-mouth resuscitation, said Jennifer Sayegh, the study’s lead investigator.

But those fears are largely unfounded, Sayegh said, because Good Samaritan laws protect most people from liability issues and standard CPR techniques have changed.

“The latest guidelines from the American Heart Association recommend compression only for adult CPR,” she said. “You don’t have to breathe into mouths anymore, but most people don’t know that that is the new standard. Without getting better training out there, people will continue to die needlessly from cardiac arrest.”

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