Kiss of Death: Does Mouth to Mouth Put Lives at Risk?


It may be called the kiss of life, but mouth-to-mouth resuscitation could actually be anything but.

According to experts, the treatment can in fact hinder heart attack patients’ chances of survival.

Under current advice, when a patient’s heart stops, first-aiders are told to give 30 chest compressions followed by two breaths into the mouth.

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Doctors are so concerned they are calling for the technique to be left out of CPR guidelines for the condition.

This technique is widely taught in schools, offices and to those who help at big sporting events.

But U.S. researchers say giving mouth-to-mouth actually interrupts time which should be spent on chest compressions to keep blood flowing round the body.

If patients are only given chest compressions, survival rates increase by a fifth, they found.

Dr Peter Nagele, of Washington University School of Medicine, in St Louis, said: ‘Our findings support the idea that emergency medical services dispatch should instruct bystanders to focus on chest-compression-only CPR in adults with out-of-hospital cardiac arrest.’

Although CPR, or cardiopulmonary resuscitation, will not restart a heart, it ensures the patient is kept alive by pumping blood around the body to crucial organs.

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October 16, 2010