Rescuer fatigue in the elderly: standard vs. hands-only CPR

Joseph W Heidenreich, Aleta Bonner, Arthur B Sanders
Journal of Emergency Medicine 2012, 42 (1): 88-92

BACKGROUND: Hands-only cardiopulmonary resuscitation (HO-CPR) is recommended as an alternative to standard CPR (STD-CPR). Studies have shown a degradation of adequate compressions with HO-CPR after 2 min when performed by young, healthy medical students. Elderly rescuers' ability to maintain an adequate compression rate and depth until emergency medical services (EMS) arrives is unknown.

OBJECTIVES: The specific aim of this study was to compare elderly rescuers' ability to maintain adequate compression rate and depth during HO-CPR and STD-CPR in a manikin model.

METHODS: In this prospective, randomized crossover study, 17 elderly volunteers performed both HO-CPR and STD-CPR, separated by at least 2 days, on a manikin model for 9 min each. The primary endpoint was the number of adequate chest compressions (> 38 mm) delivered per minute. Secondary endpoints were total compressions, compression rate, and the number of breaks taken for rest.

RESULTS: There was no difference in the number of adequate compressions between groups in the first minute; however, the STD-CPR group delivered significantly more adequate chest compressions in minutes 2-9 (p<0.05). The total number of compressions delivered was significantly greater in the HO-CPR than STD-CPR group when considering the entire resuscitation period. A significantly greater number of rescuers took breaks for rest during HO-CPR than STD-CPR.

CONCLUSIONS: Although HO-CPR resulted in a greater number of overall compressions than STD-CPR, STD-CPR resulted in a greater number of adequate compressions in all but the first minute of resuscitation.

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