Do Compressions, Don’t Worry About Breaths When Performing CPR

Do Compressions, Don’t Worry About Breaths When Performing CPR

If you’re not certain how or when to perform the artificial breaths of CPR, just skip them. New recommendations out today from the American Heart Association suggest immediate chest compressions are far more valuable, and breaths are best left to trained responders.

Image via Hawaii Air National Guard.

The old mnemonic for learning CPR was “A-B-C”: Check the airways for blockages, give an artificial breath, and then start chest compressions. But now experts recommend a “C-A-B” approach — start pressing on the chest before anything else. A CNN write-up of the new guidelines provides both some background and telling anecdotes of why it works:

The AHA guidelines also uphold a 2008 recommendation that untrained responders call 911 but then forget rescue breathing completely, and simply press on the victim’s chest until help arrives.

… All the changes apply only to adult victims who collapse of cardiac arrest; artificial respiration is still recommended for children and for adults in a few cases, including near-drowning and drug overdose.

So if you’re trained in CPR and fully know what you’re doing, by all means, provide breaths when you can (every 30 compressions is generally recommended). Otherwise, learn how to keep CPR time using “Stayin’ Alive” and read up on the American Heart Association’s official CPR guidelines, linked here (but having some server troubles at the moment).

New CPR is spelled C-A-B [ via @clarkdever]

American Heart Association: CPR Guidelines


  • I did a first aid course in Australia a month or two ago and they recommended 30 compressions and 2 quick breaths until an ambulance officer tells you to stop.

    We were told the high amount of compressions is to help keep the casualties blood pressure up and will help them last a lot longer before the ambulance can put a defib on them.

  • I heard an interview on the radio last week that said the US study is misleading. For adult heat attack victims breathing is not so important. However for drowning, particularly in children (something we in aus have far more of than the US) breathing is still very important.

    The advice (can’t remember the speaker but I think he was from Ambulance Victoria) was do full CPR if you can. If you can’t or won’t do the breathing then compressions alone are better than nothing.

  • Just because the Europeans and the Yanks got together on a junket and those that never go to cardiac arrests there decide what those members of the public (who also never go to cardiac arrests) should do across the oceans, doesn’t mean we have to follow it here. It’s dangerous to go providing tabloid medical advice without local input. That being said, they are a little backward…….

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