The updated emergency care guidelines from the American Heart Association include the following recommendations:
Make 30 chest compressions for every two rescue breaths during single-person cardiopulmonary resuscitation.
American Heart Association www.americanheart.org
"If the opportunity to help somebody comes up, do it," Wethington said. "Don't wait until you get new training. Those methods can still save lives."
The 2005 American Heart Association Guidelines for Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation and Emergency Cardiovascular Care place the emphasis on chest compressions and improved blood flow instead of mouth-to-mouth resuscitation.
Wethington said emergency care guidelines are reviewed every few years by the American Heart Association and the American Red Cross.
Recommendations made following the review then are incorporated into new training manuals and procedures.
Wethington said the changes to American Red Cross CPR and emergency response classes should be finalized by spring.
Classes based on the 2000 guidelines will continue to be taught until the new classes are offered.
Certifications based on the older guidelines will remain valid until they expire.
"The important thing is to respond to somebody who needs help," Wethington said.
The changes in the 2005 guidelines are based on studies indicating that an improved blood flow can buy heart attack victims a few additional minutes, thereby increasing their odds of survival.
Studies also show that blood circulation increases with each chest compression in a series and must be built back up after interruptions, Tiffany Coffey, communications director for the American Heart Association, said in a news release.
"Basically, the more times someone pushes on the chest, the better off the patient is," Dr. Michael Sayre, an Ohio State University emergency medicine professor who helped develop the guidelines, to the Associated Press.
"We have made things simpler," he said. "Push hard on the person's chest and push fast."
The most significant change in the CPR recommendations is the ratio of chest compressions to rescue breaths. The 2005 guidelines call for 30 chest compressions for every two rescue breaths, doubling the amount recommended five years ago. This change applies to all victims except newborns.
"The child and adult are the same process now," Wethington said. "That will make it easier for respondents to have more confidence in what they're doing."
The new guidelines also call for 100 chest compressions per minute, or more than one and one-half compressions per second.
"You want that blood to be traveling fairly fast through the system," Wethington said.
"The breathing is still important, but you want the blood flowing and getting that oxygen where it needs to be."