By Marina Renton
I walked into health class one day to find slack-jawed mannequin heads atop foam torsos lined up in rows on the classroom floor. Interspersed among the adult mannequins were infant dummies — fully formed, but equally eerie.
That macabre scene began the first aid unit of 11th-grade health, which included the memorable experience of giving the mannequins chest compressions to the rhythm of “Stayin’ Alive,” using both hands for the adults and only two fingers for the infants.
I learned cardiopulmonary resuscitation at a Massachusetts public high school, but it wasn’t a legally mandated part of the curriculum. Twenty-one states — including Washington, Texas, Alabama and Iowa — have passed laws that make CPR training a high school graduation requirement. Massachusetts is not one of them.
Someone ‘has to take up the torch and really advocate for it.’
– Dr. Farrah Mateen
But maybe it should be. A commentary just out in the Mayo Clinic Proceedings argues that the potential benefits of requiring CPR training in high school — from saving lives to getting a taste of selfless service — are so great that every state should do it.
Why don’t they? The answer isn’t that states are necessarily facing resistance to the laws. It’s that the laws just aren’t a priority, says commentary co-author Dr. Farrah Mateen, an assistant professor of neurology at Harvard Medical School and a neurologist at Massachusetts General Hospital.
In other states, legislation has been advanced by champions of the cause, Mateen said. Continue reading
Inspired by our own reporting about the new “hands-only” CPR method (here and here, including how-to videos) I took a CPR course last night at my local health department, and am happy to report that aside from the highly useful practice performing chest compressions, I came away with a musical tip:
The best song to help you maintain the rapid rhythm you need for chest compressions is not, as previously suggested, The Beegees’ ‘Stayin’ Alive.’ Why mar heroic lifesaving with hideous disco? Our instructor suggested an alternative much more to my taste: Queen’s “Another One Bites The Dust.”
Think of those excellent three beats before the chorus. They get you right into the 100-beats-per-minute rhythm you need. Just one thought, though: Maybe best not to sing the lyrics aloud to your patient…
As expected, the American Heart Association today endorsed the new, “hands-only” form of CPR today (Yes, we predicted this on Friday, right here. And for more detail, see our initial post here.)
Now this just in from Boston EMS:
Boston EMS officials today are gladly supporting new American Heart Association (AHA) guidelines for CPR that prioritize chest compressions for bystanders trying to revive people whose hearts have stopped.
For everyone wondering where to learn the new technique, there’s this on the City of Boston’s Website:
Boston EMS offers numerous CPR Certification program to fit you or your organization’s needs. Call today to learn about one that’s right for you and to schedule a class 617-343-1125.
The new CPR guidelines from the American Heart Association are not due out until next week. But Dr. Aaron Baggish of Massachusetts General Hospital — and many other cardiologists — have no doubt about what’s coming: A recommendation that everyone learn the new “hands-only” CPR.
See our earlier post on the technique and its nuances here.
The new guidelines are eagerly awaited, Dr. Baggish said, and based on extensive research showing that the new “compression-only” technique is twice as effective as the old standby. (The latest study came out just yesterday in The Lancet. It’s here.)
“The new guidelines are going to emphasize the importance of early chest compression as the important first step in CPR.” he said. “And this is a major change in the paradigm. For a long time, we’ve tried to get air into people before worrying about chest compressions, and for a number of reasons, it’s now clear that’s not the best thing.” Continue reading
The best e-mailer I know, a Cape Cod octogenarian named Jack Alden, sends me a few gems a week — helpful hints, bits of wisdom, jokes that lighten my days. A couple of weeks ago, he passed along this University of Arizona video on a new form of CPR.
At the time, all I thought was that it looked strenuous — you have to do rapidfire compressions on the heart attack victim’s chest — but effective. And that it was nice that you didn’t have to encounter alien saliva by going mouth to mouth with the patient.
Now there’s a major new study out in the Journal of the American Medical Association suggesting that this new, simpler form of CPR can save more lives, in large part because it makes bystanders more willing to try to help. The journal’s video report on its study is here:
The move toward simplifying CPR is the lead story in the Harvard Health Letter this month. Evidence in favor of the simpler CPR is growing, it says, but there are some nuances:
The Associated Press: Hands-only CPR saves more lives in cardiac arrests “It’s the first large American study to show more adults survived cardiac arrest when a bystander gave them continuous chest presses to simulate a heartbeat, compared to traditional CPR with mouth-to-mouth breathing.” (google.com)
Lawsuits over health care law heat up – USATODAY.com “The burst of litigation has the framers of the law and the Obama administration playing defense. Many scholars, such as Charles Fried of Harvard Law School, argue that the law is on firm legal footing. But there is no quick resolution in sight, and it may take a year or two, and a trip to the U.S. Supreme Court, for all the lawsuits to get sorted out.” (USA Today)
Report Says Nurses Have Bigger Jobs To Do, But Doctors Say Not So Fast : Shots – Health News Blog : NPR “Nurses will need to be better educated, says a report just issued by the National Academy of Sciences’ Institute of Medicine. In 10 years, 80 percent of nurses should have bachelor’s degrees. Twice as many nurses should get PhDs and all nurses should do residencies, the sort of practical training that new doctors do.”(npr.org)
Medical examiner’s credentials are challenged by predecessor – The Boston Globe “The state medical examiner’s office, which has been rocked by repeated controversies, now faces another embarrassing mess: One of the agency’s former top officials is accusing the current chief medical examiner of having falsified credentials.” (Boston Globe)
And last but not least: This came out yesterday and is making the rounds like, well, a cold — a nice debunking of supposed immune-boosters:
Op-Ed Contributor – How Not to Fight Colds – NYTimes.com (The New York Times)