Having cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) performed on you may put you at a higher risk of suffering from a broken rib or a sternal fracture, according to a report published in the journal Resuscitation. (Small price to pay for surviving a heart attack, right?)
Researchers took CT scans of 71 subjects who had CPR performed on them—either at the hospital or prior to arriving—between January and June of 2011. Twenty-two of the subjects experienced at least one broken rib due to the procedure.
Scared to give CPR now? Don’t be. If you’re ever in a situation where you have the ability to perform CPR on someone who needs it, you should never shy away from saving someone’s life because you’re afraid of hurting them, says Alson Inaba, M.D., Division Head of Pediatric Emergency Medicine at the Kapiolani Medical Center for Women & Children in Honolulu, Hawaii.
When people think of CPR, they typically think of the mouth-to-mouth method, where you push on the chest and breathe in the mouth. But as it turns out, the hands-only method—pushing on the chest without breathing—is just as effective, says Dr. Inaba.
In fact, according to two trials published in The New England Journal of Medicine, when researchers compared the effectiveness of hands-only to the traditional method, the results showed that the survival rates are practically the same.
So if you’re ready to enhance your skill set, use this easy step-by-step guide for performing hands-only CPR. (To get more must-have health knowledge delivered straight to your inbox, sign up for our free Daily Dose newsletter.)
1. Call the hospital or ambulance
If you see someone collapse who is unresponsive and no longer breathing, your first move should always be to call 911, says Inaba. Make sure the victim is lying on their back and that help is on the way before starting to do CPR.
2. Get into Position
Kneel at the victim’s side and place the heel of your hand in the middle of the victim’s chest (level with their nipples, parallel with their breast bone). As you interlock your fingers, place the heel of your free hand on the back of the hand that’s touching the victim’s chest, says Dr. Inaba. (See the picture above.) Now straighten your arms and position your shoulders directly above the victim’s chest so you can generate the most force.
3. Begin Compressions
Dr. Inaba’s mantra for hands-only CPR: Push down hard and fast. You should aim for roughly 100 compressions a minute. (That’s almost two compressions a second.) Need an easy way to stay on track? Pump to the beat of the classic Bee Gees song “Stayin’ Alive,” suggests Dr. Inaba. (Leave your white jumpsuit at home.) Keep the compressions up until the paramedics arrive on the scene.