Efficacy of chest compression-only BLS CPR in the presence of an occluded airway

Karl B. Kern, Ronald W. Hilwig, Robert A. Berg, Gordon A. Ewy

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

198 Scopus citations


Reluctance of the lay public to perform bystander CPR is becoming an increasingly worrisome problem in the USA. Most bystanders who admit such reluctance concede that fear of contagious disease from mouth-to-mouth contact is what keeps them from performing basic life support. Animal models of prehospital cardiac arrest indicates that 24-h survival is essentially as good with chest compression-only CPR as with chest compressions and assisted ventilation. This simpler technique is an attractive alternative strategy for encouraging more bystander participation. Such experimental studies have been criticized as irrelevant however secondary to differences between human and porcine airway mechanics. This study examined the effect of chest compression-only CPR under the worst possible circumstances where the airway was totally occluded. After 6 min of either standard CPR including ventilation with a patent airway or chest compressions-only with a totally occluded airway, no difference in 24 h survival was found (10/10 vs. 9/10). As anticipated arterial blood gases were not as good, but hemodynamics produced were better with chest compression-only CPR (P < 0.05). Chest compression-only CPR, even with a totally occluded airway, is as good as standard CPR for successful outcome following 6.5 min of cardiac arrest. Such a strategy for the first minutes of cardiac arrest, particularly before professional help arrives, has several advantages including increased acceptability to the lay public.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)179-188
Number of pages10
Issue number3
StatePublished - 1998


  • Chest compression-only CPR
  • Hemodynamics
  • Mouth-to-mouth

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Emergency Medicine
  • Emergency
  • Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine


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