While everything else in this world seems to be getting more complicated, cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) keeps on getting simpler, reports the October 2010 issue of theHarvard Health Letter.

Remember old-fashioned CPR? You were supposed to clear the airway, push on the chest, give mouth-to-mouth breaths, and check for a pulse every once in a while. The procedure has been streamlined for cases when a person suddenly collapses and has no pulse or heartbeat. In this situation, the American Heart Association says to forgo airway clearing, breaths, and pulse checks and just concentrate on pushing on the chest — a procedure called “hands only” CPR.

Even if you’ve never taken a CPR class in your life, if you see someone suddenly collapse, the heart association says to call 911 and then start pushing hard and fast on the person’s breastbone — 100 times a minute — until emergency medical technicians or paramedics arrive. It’s also important to have someone go get an automated external defibrillator (AED) if one is nearby so you can attempt to shock the heart back into a normal rhythm.

Administering hands-only CPR before professional help arrives is just as effective as traditional CPR at helping someone survive a sudden shutdown of the heart. People with “noncardiac” arrest, which usually means they had breathing problems before their hearts went haywire, benefit from traditional CPR.

This is not an unanticipated finding, notes theHarvard Health Letter. When the heart association gave its blessing to hands-only CPR, it came with a proviso that conventional CPR techniques might still benefit some people. Children and victims of drowning, trauma, airway obstruction, and acute respiratory disease are specifically mentioned.

Read the full-length article: “The simplification of CPR”