Great strides have been made in recent years to prevent death from heart problems, however, sudden cardiac arrest (when the heart stops beating) is still one of the leading causes of death in the United States.  More than 350,000 cardiac arrests occur outside of the hospital each year, about 70% of those occur at home and nearly 20% of those occur in a public setting.

Immediate CPR, or cardio-pulmonary resuscitation, can double or triple a person’s chance of survival.  However, the 2017 Heart Disease and Stroke Statistics stated that among the 356,000 victims of out-of-hospital cardiac arrests that occurred, only about 45% received bystander CPR.  Sometimes, people don’t act because they are afraid of doing the wrong thing, but recognizing that something is wrong and getting help on the way by phoning 9-1-1 are two of the most important things you can do.  A 9-1-1 dispatcher will guide you in the next steps you can take to help the person.  Iowa’s Good Samaritan Law provides legal protection to individuals that provide emergency assistance. 

Compressions during CPR is one of the most important aspects of a successful resuscitation as it allows blood flow to continue to the person’s vital organs.  Hands-Only CPR (or Compressions-Only CPR) is CPR performed without giving breaths and has proven to be very effective for victims of cardiac arrest that occur at home, at work, or in public. 

There are two main steps with Hands-Only CPR:

  1. Call 9-1-1
  2. Push hard and fast in the center of the person’s chest.  Hands-only CPR is performed with continuous compressions because there will not need to be breaks to give breaths.

To provide high-quality compressions, make sure that you

  • Provide compressions that are deep enough.  You need to push hard enough to pump blood through the body.  People often don’t push down hard enough because they’re afraid of hurting the person.  It is better to push down too hard than not hard enough, and it is unlikely that you will hurt the person by doing compressions.
  • Provide compressions that are fast enough, at a rate of 100-120 compressions per minute.  We all know the song “Stayin’ Alive” by the Bee Gees.  When you push on the chest at a rate of 100-120 compressions per minute, that would correspond to the beat of this song. 
  • Let the chest come back up to its normal position after each compression.  This allows the heart to fill back up with blood before being pushed out again through the body. 

When a person has a cardiac arrest, survival depends on immediately receiving CPR from someone nearby.  Please take a couple of minutes and go to YouTube and search “Hands-Only CPR Instructional Video” from the American Heart Association. Feel free to share it with your family and friends.

If you are interested in receiving more formal training on CPR at Guthrie County Hospital, please contact Michaela Shriver at (641) 332-3802 to sign up for a class. 

Kassie Cline, RN BSN
BLS and ACLS Instructor