Change in CPR may make it more effective

NEW YORK Fri Sep 21, 2007 4:26pm EDT

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NEW YORK (Reuters Health) - Performing only rhythmic abdominal compressions, rather than the standard chest compressions, may increase the flow of blood that is achieved during cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR), according to the results of a study conducted with animals.

The biggest finding of the study is that performing CPR using only rhythmic abdominal compressions can provide "blood flow AND artificial respiration," lead author Dr. Leslie Geddes, from Purdue University in West Lafayette, Indiana, told Reuters Health.

CPR using rhythmic abdominal compressions does not require chest compression and it does not require mouth-to-mouth breathing, which "eliminates the risk of rib fractures and transfer of infection," Geddes explained.

Previous research has shown that conventional CPR has success rates of just 5 percent to 10 percent. Plus, for every minute that passes before CPR is started, the chance of success falls by 10 percent.

"In other words, at 10 minutes, the resuscitation is absolutely ineffective," Geddes said in a statement. "Any medical procedure that had that low a success rate would be abandoned right away. But the alternative is not very good either -- don't do CPR, and the person is going to die."

Rhythmic abdominal compression-CPR works by forcing blood from the blood vessels around the abdominal organs, an area known to contain about 25 percent of the body's total blood volume. This blood is then redirected to other sites, including the circulation around the heart.

Geddes' team tested rhythmic abdominal compression-CPR on pigs with experimentally induced ventricular fibrillation, a cardiac disturbance in which the heart muscle beats abnormally, preventing oxygen-enriched blood to be pumped to the rest of the body. The findings are published in the American Journal of Emergency Medicine.

The researchers found that 60 percent more blood was pumped to the heart using rhythmic abdominal compression-CPR than with standard chest compression-CPR, using the same amount of effort.

Plus, there was no evidence that rhythmic abdominal compressions damaged the abdominal organs and the risk of rib fracture was avoided.

SOURCE: American Journal of Emergency Medicine, September 2007.

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