The majority of cardiac arrests in adults have a cardiac origin, he said, while in children non cardiac causes are far more common. “The study shows clearly that when children experience an out of hospital cardiac arrest, both their circulation and respiration need to be supported. Such 'rescue breaths' should remain a key feature of paediatric guidelines,” said Professor Filippatos, adding that the study also made the important point that the results of studies in adult populations cannot be extrapolated directly to children.
Last year the American Heart Association (AHA) said that if a bystander is not trained in cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR), they should provide only chest compressions in adults who experience out of hospital cardiac arrest, but acknowledged that pediatric victims benefit from conventional CPR including ‘rescue breaths'. Guidelines from the European Resuscitation Council (ERC), that state that bystanders should provide chest compressions and mouth-to-mouth ventilation for adults and children, are due to be updated in September 2010.
The study, said Professor Filippatos, also demonstrated the importance of placing greater emphasis on training the public in bystander resuscitation. “While 1.4 million citizens are trained in CPR each year in Japan, such programmes are available to just a fraction of the European population. Special training programmes also need to be offered to professionals working with children to teach the best techniques for this group.”
While bystander CPR studies are difficult to undertake due to inherent problems of randomising members of the public, there is an urgent need for more randomised controlled studies in the field of advanced cardiac life support. “The focus needs to be increased in this area to save lives, since only a very small percentage of people suffering out of hospital cardiac arrest survive to out of hospital discharge,” said Professor Filippatos.