by now most of you may have heard about the unexpected passing of tim russert this past week. apparently he had issues with his weight (not a surprise), cholesterol, blood pressure, etc. it's interesting to follow the media (including the medical media) about his untimely death--so many questions about whether he was on the right medications, could his death have been prevented, should he have had more testing. by all accounts, it seems like he was getting the proper care. the bottom line is, no matter what you do, even if it's the right thing, people will still die. having said that, i did find something very interesting in an article i read recently. click this link to get to it. karen has a weekly celebrity post so maybe this will be the start to my weekly if not twice-monthly medical post. i call your attention to the last paragraph in the article. someone was performing cpr with mouth-to-mouth when the paramedics got there but it's unclear if anyone did chest compressions. regardless, obviously they did what they felt like they could.
BUT, the word needs to get out: if you see someone collapse with what is assumed to be a cardiac arrest, don't bother with mouth-to-mouth! please, spread this word. the guidelines have changed recently after much effort. once someone becomes unconscious (i.e., "witnessed cardiac arrest"), there is enough oxygen in the system to last several minutes. the most important thing to do is to start chest compressions to get blood circulating. DO NOT BOTHER GIVING MOUTH-TO-MOUTH the first few minutes! now if you know me, you know i hardly ever use all caps but this is that important. another reason the guidelines have changed is because mouth-to-mouth typically has been a barrier to people helping out. if that is removed, then people are more likely to do the chest compressions which is most important.
most critical is getting the blood pumping and that requires pounding on the chest at a rate of about 100 times per minute and pressing down on the sternum about 1-2 inches. incidentally, if you do not feel any ribs breaking then you are probably not pressing down hard enough. if the point of the ribcage is to protect the heart, then you realize that you have to break some ribs to have effective chest compressions. forget about the ones you see on tv, they are nowhere near how they should be (although i will admit i am a sucker for medical shows). the easiest form is to lock your arms and put your weight into it. this maneuver is very tiring and you can't last more than a couple of minutes so it's important to have someone ready to take over. if you don't lock your arms and just try to push down with your hands, you won't last 10 seconds. of course, the best plan is probably to take a cpr class but at least you have this info just in case. plus, the guidelines have changed only in the past couple of months so any books you use might still have the old info. hope this helps.