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Hands-Only Approach Can Help Patients Survive Cardiac Arrest

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According to the American Heart Association, 89 percent of those who've died from out of hospital heart attacks could have been saved by CPR on the scene. NY1's Erin Billups filed the following report on a hands-only life-saving approach in the final days of Heart Health Month.

Sudden heart attacks are a leading cause of death in the United States. Reka Reisinger's seemingly healthy 56-year-old dad was lucky, surviving cardiac arrest this December.

"The fireman saved him 'cause they were right next door to where he worked," Reisinger says. "If he hadn't gotten that help, he wouldn't be here."

Hopefully, there's not a next time, but Reisinger says that if there is, she wants to be prepared.

She joined others for a hands-only CPR class at NewYork-Presbyterian Perelman Heart Institute.

"We have all of these high-tech devices," says Dr. James Horowitz, associate director of the NewYork-Presbyterian/Weill Cornell Medical Cardiac Care Unit. "The one thing I can't control is that first 10 minutes, and I can't stress enough the importance of having hands on the chest."

Chest compressions alone help the heart pump blood to the brain and moves air around in the body, which is why the American Heart Association encourages people to learn the hands-only method.

"It was complex to have to figure out how many compressions, how many mouth-to-mouth," Horwitz says. "And frankly, because people weren't really doing it, because they thought it was sort of gross."

There are three steps; check, call and compress.

"Check means, see if you get a response," Horwitz says. "If they're unresponsive, call for help."

Then, you start compressions at 100 beats per minute. Or, if it's easier, pump to the beat of the Bee Gees' "Stayin' Alive."

The key is to keep doing compressions until help comes, even if the person is not responding.

"The thinking is that, better safe than sorry. Once EMS gets there, they can take over," Horwitz says. "We've had amazing recoveries in this hospital, where people are basically essentially dead for 45 minutes, but they're having compressions the whole time. When we finally get their heart started again, we've had people in that situation go back to work with totally normal brain function."

"If I have to do it, I'll do it, but nervous to do it still," Reisinger says.

She says, though that at least now, she knows what to do.

"The more people that we train to do hands-only CPR, the better off you are," Horwitz says.

For more information, click this link. You can also access a Spotify list of songs that you can do 100-beat-per-minute compressions to here.

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