HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - The American Heart Association issued new guidelines Sunday night that include a major change in the steps to perform cardiopulmonary resuscitation, or CPR. The association says it is the first change in the procedure since it was first introduced in 1960.
The sequence of steps for CPR was known as "A-B-C," for Airway, Breathing and Chest compressions.
"Now it's going to be C-A-B," said Pam Foster of the American Heart Association in Hawaii. "Compressions first, followed by opening the airway and establishing breathing."
Foster said one reason for the change is that many people were unwilling or unable to perform mouth to mouth resuscitation (the "B" part of the sequence) and didn't continue on to perform the chest compressions. The association also said fewer than a third of people in cardiac arrest would receive CPR from a bystander because the old sequence started with the most difficult procedures.
The new guidelines also recommended that the compressions are at least two inches deep into the chest, and a rate of at least 100 compressions a minute. They also said compression-only CPR is easier for an untrained rescuer to perform, and can be more readily guided by emergency dispatchers over the phone. The association said a rescuer should get someone to call 9-1-1 and to get an Automated External Defibrillator, or AED, if there is one nearby.
CPR would have made a difference for one Oahu woman.
"Everything changed when my 28 year-old daughter Kristin -- who always had a vibrant, healthy life -- collapsed suddenly of sudden cardiac arrest," said Sharon Maekawa. Her daughter, Kristin Claudi, was a teacher at Moanalua Elementary School. Claudi died after collapsing during a meeting at school in May 2009, and didn't get CPR. Now, her mother has been trained in the procedure, and wants everyone else to do the same.
"It's something that, like a fire extinguisher, you hope never to use it," Maekawa said. "But if the occasion should arise that you need it, you'll be glad that you have it.
To learn more about CPR and the new guidelines, visit the American Heart Association's Web site at www.heart.org.