BOSTON, MA – Studies show that when cardiopulmonary
resuscitation (CPR) is done right away — and correctly — it saves
lives. However, the chances of that happening aren't very good, reports
the May issue of the Harvard Health Letter. Some studies have
found that as few as 1 in 20 people who have a cardiac arrest outside
of the hospital survive, even with CPR. And even health professionals
often don't perform the procedure correctly.
The Automated External Defibrillator (AED)The
advent of the automated external defibrillator (AED) has added another
wrinkle. An AED analyzes the activity of the heart. If it has developed
a lethal rhythm or is not beating at all, the machine delivers an
electric shock to jolt it back to normal. AEDs can be bought without a
prescription for about $1,500.
"The AED presents a tough choice," says the Health Letter.
"It's theoretically better than CPR because it can restart the heart,
whereas CPR is merely a stopgap." One study found that a
defibrillator-CPR combination improved the survival rate over CPR alone
(23% versus 14%). But if you run around looking for an AED while
neglecting CPR, you could lose lifesaving minutes.
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