Simplified CPR may increase chances of preventing brain damage

I am delighted to read that more people are picking up the simplified CPR (Simplified CPR could save more lives: Study; Dec 18).

Due to hygiene reasons, people are often reluctant to give mouth-to-mouth resuscitation, but there is a higher chance for survival if continuous chest compressions are given without interruption from mouth-to-mouth resuscitation.

Prior to 2007, cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) was done in Singapore with repeated cycles of 30 chest compressions followed by two mouth-to-mouth breathings.

After findings from the United States and Japan, the authorities in Singapore changed it to 100 chest compressions per minute, but maintained the 30:2 ratio of chest compressions and mouth-to-mouth breathings.

Whenever automated external defibrillators are available - which fortunately they are, in most places in Singapore - they should be used as indicated.

The important thing in resuscitation is to keep the brain function intact while maintaining the heart's rhythm.

This happens with continuous chest compressions at a rate of 100 per minute for two minutes or more until a resuscitation team or ambulance arrives.

The important thing in resuscitation is to keep the brain function intact while maintaining the heart's rhythm... Within one minute of a lack of oxygen supply, the brain cells begin to die, and by three minutes, serious brain damage is likely.

The idea is to keep the heart beating by pressing repeatedly on the chest and moving the stored oxygen in the blood to vital parts of the body, particularly the brain.

When a cardiac arrest happens, arterial blood oxygenation is perfectly normal.

During a respiratory arrest, because a person stops breathing but his heart is still pumping, the body is using up the oxygen in the blood.

Near-drowning or choking incidents are examples of when victims will have used up the oxygen in their blood and require rescue breathing from CPR, which includes mouth-to-mouth resuscitation.

Within one minute of a lack of oxygen supply, the brain cells begin to die, and by three minutes, serious brain damage is likely.

While only 15 per cent of cardiac arrest victims who received the traditional CPR survive with intact brain function, studies have shown a three-fold rise in survival with intact brain function with the new simplified CPR.

V. Parameswaran Nair (Dr)

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on December 25, 2017, with the headline 'Simplified CPR may increase chances of preventing brain damage'. Print Edition | Subscribe