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Deep chest compression may reduce brain damage during cardiac arrest

If you see someone who's unconscious and not breathing normally, try giving cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR), or just chest compressions. @Shutterstock

A new study says that deep chest compressions can crack ribs, but it prevents brain damage during cardiac arrest. Read on to know more.

Written by Jahnavi Sarma |Updated : August 28, 2020 12:37 PM IST

If your heart stops, you are in cardiac arrest. To resuscitate such a patients, chest compressions must be done as soon as possible. In an adult, the depth of compression is 2 to 2.4 inches. These compressions need to be done at a rate of 100-120 compressions per minute, on the sternum in the center of the chest. This is the same for both men and women. When done properly, deep chest compressions make racking sounds. This is because of the cracking of cartilage or ribs. But the damage is usually not serious.

A new study at the University Hospital La Paz in Spain says that deep chest compressions can crack ribs, but it prevents brain damage during cardiac arrest. According to researchers, it improves blood flow to the brain, improving survival and brain function. CPR guidelines are updated every five years and are used to train health professionals and members of the public.

Concerns over deeper chest compressions

The 2015 recommendation for deeper chest compressions generated concerns over the possibility of increasing CPR-related injuries. The new study, presented at ESC Congress 2020 The Digital Experience, examined the impact of this advice on neurological outcomes in survivors of cardiac arrest. It also assessed the rate of CPR-related injuries and their association with prognosis. Researchers say that they wanted to analyse the effect of deep chest compressions during prolonged resuscitation when they could make a real difference to outcomes.

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22.7 per cent CPR related injuries reported in 2016-2020

From 2006 to 2020, the study enrolled consecutive patients admitted to an acute cardiac care unit after a cardiac arrest in hospital or in the community. Patients were divided into three groups corresponding to updates of the CPR guidelines: 2006-2010, 2011-2015, and 2016-2020. The study included 510 patients who survived cardiac arrest and were admitted to hospital while unconscious. The average age was 63 years and 81 per cent were men. CPR by lay bystanders and the use of automated external defibrillators (AEDs) progressively increased over the study period.

After 2010, there was a higher proportion of CPR-related injuries: 12.7 per cent in 2006-2010, 23.5 per cent in 2011-2015, 22.7 per cent in 2016-2020. Just over half of the patients survived and were discharged from the hospital (51.6 per cent).

Patients with such injuries reported better brain performance

Brain performance at three months significantly increased over the course of the study (i.e. it was highest in the 2016-2020 group). The study showed that patients with CPR-related injuries were more likely to have better brain performance. Nearly two-thirds (65.1 per cent) of patients with injuries had high brain function compared to 43.2 per cent without injuries. The most common injuries were rib or sternal fractures. Survival and neurological outcome also improved significantly during the 14-year study.

(With inputs from IANS)

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