Stayin’ Alive Not So Hot For CPR After All

Stayin’ Alive Not So Hot For CPR After All

Way back in 2008, we passed on a suggestion that the rhythm of the Bee Gees’ disco classic Stayin’ Alive was a useful guide to the rate at which you should perform CPR. However, a more recent study suggests that using music as a guide can do more harm than good.

BBC News reports that a number of studies suggest that using the rhythm of Stayin’ Alive or other similarly paced songs (such as Achy Breaky Heart or Nelly The Elephant — yes, both real examples) did ensure that people got the right rate. However, the pressure applied when using those songs as guides was often too low.

The big lessons? Knowing CPR properly is the most useful way to deal with a situation where someone’s heart stops, so sign up for some first-aid training so you can get both rhythm and pressure correct. That said, even poor CPR is better than standing by and letting someone die.

Stayin’ alive – does music have a role in CPR? [BBC News]


  • Staying Alive only works if you do compressions at double-speed. My first aid instructor recommended My Sharona, which is better, as long as you do it fast!

    The current Australian Red Cross recommendation for CPR is 2 breaths & 30 compressions per cycle, with 3 cycles in less than a minute. (100 compressions per minute).

    So yeah, it’s damn fast, but what you’re doing is keeping oxygen pumping to the person’s brain.

    All these movies that show CPR re-starting someone’s heart and them regaining consciousness immediately… yeah, that pisses me off. No way will you ever get someone to regain consciousness with CPR – if they need CPR, only proper medical treatment will get them back to the point where they will regain consciousness. First aid ain’t gonna cut it.

    • Agreed, it’s a continuously portrayed misconception that probably does more harm than good.

      What’s important to remember is that as long as you do compressions, 1/3 chest depth in the middle of the sternum (I’ve heard of people doing stomach compressions) you will do some good.

      Do them fast and do them right, breaths are even optional. Also, something I just learnt but should have known earlier, CPR should be continued for AT LEAST 45mins in drowning cases specifically due to cases of hypothermia prolonging brain tissue viability.

  • Not really relevent to this particular story, but why the hell do they not just teach CPR to every single student in grade 6, then again in year 10. I know guidelines change constantly (Hence why I have to redo the course every bloody year), but CPR “I learnt a few years ago and kind of remember” is better than humming a song, and much more likely to result in the correect pressure being applied.

  • Something to note is that the R in CPR is a little misleading. CPR alone will probably not be enough to resuscitate a patient.

    Another thing to remember when performing CPR is that you DO NOT STOP until told to by a trained medic.

    You see an ambulance arrive, you don’t stop the CPR and rush over to the ambulance – You may be exhausted and scared, but you keep doing what you’re doing until the Ambos tell you to stop and get out of the way. Maintaining circulation the the brain and heart are vital.

  • To add to what the other commenters said, when I did first aid training last year, they said that because CPR isn’t 100% effective, that your best bet is to call the ambulance first, THEN commence CPR. The rules about CPR have been changed to make it simpler to remember, but my instructor said that anything is better than nothing.

    • That’s the song we were taught to use only a couple of months ago, I kept chuckling to myself however with the other version….Roll Roll Roll your joint…

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