Should you do CPR during COVID-19 crisis?

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Heart and stroke charity Croí answer questions about CPR during the COVID-19 crisis

Local heart and stroke charity Croí has issued advice based on best practice guidelines on how to respond to a collapse in cardiac arrest at home or in the community during the current COVID-19 crisis.

Croí CEO, Neil Johnson says that the charity has received a number of calls from the public on this and that they have consulted with the most up-to-date expert opinion and guidelines.

In the event of a cardiac emergency, cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) could mean the difference between life and death.

Performing effective CPR helps keep blood and oxygen flowing and dramatically increases the chances of survival in those who suffer a cardiac arrest.

However, the COVID-19 outbreak has generated many questions and concerns about potential exposure from mouth-to-mouth CPR.

The best protection from infection is to follow the recommended procedures and guidance as follows:

Can I get COVID-19 from performing CPR?

Yes, you can get COVID-19 from performing mouth-to-mouth CPR. We strongly advise anyone in the community to do COMPRESSION- ONLY CPR. Studies have shown that compression-only CPR in adults may be as effective as combined rescue breaths and chest compression in the first few minutes of cardiac arrest. It is still important to call 112 or 999 and apply an AED (Automated External Defibrillator) as normal. For Compression-Only CPR, push hard and fast in the centre of the person’s chest, on the lower half of breast bone, until advanced help arrives. If you think the person may have COVID-19, please mention your concerns to the emergency response dispatcher so that those who respond can be aware of the potential for COVID-19 transmission. It is at your discretion to perform or not to perform mouth-to-mouth on a loved one or family member. If you choose to perform breaths, it is recommended you use a barrier device, such as a pocket mask or face shield, to help protect yourself.

Should I still do the breaths for CPR in a suspected/confirmed COVID-19 case?

No, in a suspected or confirmed COVID-19 case use compression-only CPR and apply an AED as soon as possible.

What about children – should I still do the breaths for CPR?

Yes, consider performing compressions and breaths, especially if you know the child/infant. For a child or an infant, the cause of the heart stopping is likely to be due to a respiratory issue, so breaths are really important. If you do not feel comfortable giving breaths, or are concerned for COVID-19, you can perform compression-only CPR until help arrives and apply the AED as normal.

After performing resuscitation – are there any precautions I should take?

Yes, you should wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water for a minimum of 20 seconds. Alcohol-based hand gel is a convenient alternative.

I have given mouth-to-mouth. What should I do?

No additional actions can be taken other than to monitor yourself for symptoms of possible COVID- 19 over the following 14 days. Should you develop such symptoms, please contact your GP.