I saw a strange television advertisement the other day for HandsOnlyCPR.org and I was surprised to learn the American Heart Association is now suggesting you can do CPR — Cardio Pulmonary Resuscitation — without the Pulmonary!

I was always trained and taught that proper CPR meant chest compressions AND breathing into the victim’s mouth — but that no longer seems to be the case — according to HandsOnlyCPR.org.

There’s even an iPhone App you can download to show you the new CPR Steps. 

First:  Use your fingers to dial 911.

Finally:  Push on the chest a few times.

I can’t help but think this total rewriting of CPR is an effort to get more people interested in performing CPR since nobody really wants to touch mouths with a dying victim and so, it seems, the AHA degraded the overall CPR effort to make it “less icky” and more fashionable, while still calling it “CPR.” 

Just use your phone to dial 911, then start pushing with your hands:  No breath exchange necessary.

The AHA even created a too-cute “Hands Symphony” on their website to show you just how fun using your hands — instead of your mouth — can be in saving a life:

We live in dangerous times where fluids exchanges can kill you and Herpes infections come gifted in the quick kiss — so I understand the AHA logic of removing the spit exchange barrier from the CPR routine.

I’m still disappointed that CPR as we have known it is now pretty much dead — replaced by flying fingers and only chest compressions — but I suppose we must hold blind faith in our Public Health experts who are paid to know more than the rest of us, and they certainly must have determined that what was once the “breath of life” is now the “kiss of death.” 


  1. That link you provide really proves the problem with CPR now: It’s confusing! Do we breathe or not? Hands enough? Do we believe the American Heart Association or the Mayo Clinic? They can’t both be right, right?

  2. The American Heart Association seems to have steadily lost credibility. Some years back they got embroiled with promoting commercial interests of a Manikin/Simulator manufacturer. Who knows what hidden commercial interests lie behind this. The fact is that Emergency Medical treatment is the real casualty.

      1. If “hands only cpr” works, then what is the need for face masks, Ambu Bags and other resuscitators. Hands only CPR has shown that it is not the lungs that require Oxygen, but it is the brain that requires Oxygen. Any delay in sending Oxygen to the brain can prove detremental to the survival. Giving Resuce breaths introduce delays in delivery of Oxygen to the brain. The fast compressions causes a bellows action that sucks in air from the airway. The airway needs to be open for that. Opening the airway is vital even in “Hands only CPR”

        1. I agree with you, Vijay and you’re making excellent points. I think they went with this dumbed down version of CPR in order to encourage stupid Americans to try to save some lives. I honestly think the counting between the chest compressions and the breathing was too confusing for people, but maybe there’s something more sinister afoot.

      1. Yes David, there are some links. See New Your Times publication dated Jan 26,1998 titled ” Red Cross is criticised on Deal with Manufacturer. Also MSNBC.com “Doctors spark debate over CPR technique Also see ” The 2010 Resuscitation Guidelines at http://www.resus.org.uk/pages/guide.htm.

Comments are closed.