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American Heart Association Rearranges the ABCs of CPR

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(DALLAS) -- The American Heart Association issued new guidelines Monday rearranging the steps for cardiopulmonary resuscitation, or CPR.  According to the association, rapid chest compressions should now be the first step taken in trying to revive victims of cardiac arrest.  This changes the original order for CPR from A-B-C (Airway-Breathing-Compressions) to C-A-B (Compressions-Airway-Breathing).

“For more than 40 years, CPR training has emphasized the ABCs of CPR, which instructed people to open a victim’s airway by tilting their head back, pinching the nose and breathing into the victim’s mouth, and only then giving chest compressions,” said Michael Sayre, M.D., co-author of the guidelines and chairman of the American Heart Association’s Emergency Cardiovascular Care (ECC) Committee.

“This approach was causing significant delays in starting chest compressions, which are essential for keeping oxygen-rich blood circulating through the body," Sayre said. "Changing the sequence from A-B-C to C-A-B for adults and children allows all rescuers to begin chest compressions right away.”

The AHA notes that victims will have oxygen remaining in their lungs and bloodstream during the first few minutes of a cardiac arrest.  By starting CPR with chest compressions, as opposed to opening a victim's airway first, that blood can be pumped back to the victim's brain and heart faster.

The changes apply to adults, children and infants, but not to newborns.

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