Saturday, February 02, 2008

New and Improved CPR

"You know you're doing it right when you hear the ribs crack." Those words -- spoken by a paramedic teaching me how to do CPR -- have always stuck with me. They made sense at the time: In order for traditional CPR to work, the rescuer needs to compress the victim's sternum by at least an inch-and-a-half to two inches, over and over again -- and doing that can definitely result in a cracked rib or two.

But a new CPR technique, devised by Leslie Geddes, PhD, DSc, Showalter Distinguished Professor Emeritus at Purdue University's Weldon School of Biomedical Engineering, does away with both cracked ribs and mouth to mouth resuscitation (a concern due to the risk of infection), while also pumping 40% more oxygen-rich blood through the heart. Since conventional CPR has a success rate of just 5% to 10%, Dr. Geddes was looking for a better form of CPR that would improve blood flow and be easier for one person to perform. The technique, known as "Only Abdominal Compression" or OAC-CPR, works by pushing rhythmically on the abdomen (above the belly button), instead of the chest, to squeeze blood through the circulatory system. At the same time, the compression forces the diaphragm to move rhythmically so that air flows into and out of the lungs. In the preliminary tests on pigs Dr. Geddes and his colleagues have done thus far, there's no apparent increased risk of injury to internal organs using OAC-CPR or any increase in the victim's risk of vomiting.


Dr. Geddes has great hopes that this new form of CPR will gain popularity and save lives -- though he says it will take time before it becomes official. Research is underway to learn more about risks and benefits, and a device Dr. Geddes and his team developed to make the procedure easier needs to be reviewed by the government before it can be recommended for use on people. We'll keep you posted.


Leslie Geddes, PhD, DSc, Showalter Distinguished Professor Emeritus, Weldon School of Biomedical Engineering, Purdue University.

Vital Wellness

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