Changing the rules on CPR for cardiac arrest

New studies show that skipping mouth-to-mouth breathing and focusing on pressing the chest boosts survival and brain protection.

When a person suddenly collapses from a cardiac arrest, cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) is his or her only chance of surviving. As traditionally taught, this type of emergency first aid has two main parts: pressing the chest (and thus the heart) to keep blood circulating through the body, and mouth-to-mouth breathing to supply oxygen. CPR guidelines call for alternating chest compressions with short breaths, in a ratio of 30 to 2. Some experts are calling for a simpler, easier procedure that focuses almost exclusively on compressing the chest.

To continue reading this article, you must login.
  • Research health conditions
  • Check your symptoms
  • Prepare for a doctor's visit or test
  • Find the best treatments and procedures for you
  • Explore options for better nutrition and exercise
Learn more about the many benefits and features of joining Harvard Health Online »