Saving the day
04 Nov 2011
The kiss of life can literally be the difference between life or death for someone who has stopped breathing. If the patient's heart has stopped as well, circulation of oxygenated blood can be maintained by external chest compressions (ECC). It is recommended that compression to ventilation ratio should be 30:2 for adults and 15:2 for children. However performing chest compressions is tiring and new research published in BioMed Central's open access journal BMC Emergency Medicine shows that a person’s physical fitness restricts the amount of time they can correctly perform ECC and adds weight to the 2010 European Resuscitation Council Advanced Life Support Guidelines which recommend that that people performing ECC should change every two minutes.
Using healthcare professionals, researchers from the University of Göttingen compared levels of fitness to the ability to perform chest compressions correctly. The results showed that people with higher body mass index (BMI) and higher levels of fitness were more able to perform ECC correctly and tired less quickly. The researchers also found that fitness tests which focused on the upper body were more accurate in predicting the quality of ECC compared to standard fitness tests, such as cycling. Compression depth began to decrease by three minutes for participants with lower BMI and lower fitness. The women amongst the group (who on average had lower BMI than the men) tended to compress too shallowly and tire more quickly.
Dr Russo said, "Correctly performed ECC declined over time for all participants. In a medical situation it is important to bear this in mind and swap providers at regular intervals. Our results suggest that changing every two minutes would prevent tiredness from impeding proper compression. This is especially true for lighter people performing ECC as well as the less fit. Anyone can be trained to perform ECC, and this simple procedure saves many lives."
Dr Hilary Glover
Scientific Press Officer, BioMed Central
Tel: +44 (0) 20 3192 2370
Notes to Editors
1. Impact of physical fitness and biometric data on the quality of external chest compressions: a randomised, crossover trial
Sebastian G Russo, Peter Neumann, Sylvia Reinhardt, Arnd Timmermann, Andre Niklas, Michael Quintel and Christoph B Eich
Please name the journal in any story you write. If you are writing for the web, please link to the article. All articles are available free of charge, according to BioMed Central’s open access policy.
2. BMC Emergency Medicine is an Open Access, peer-reviewed journal that considers articles on all aspects of emergency medicine, trauma, and pre-hospital care.