Members of the public giving emergency resuscitation who focus on chest compressions ahead of mouth-to-mouth are likely to get better results, according to research.
Chest compressions alone have been found to boost survival chances by more than 22%, according to a study of 3,000 patients published in The Lancet. However, training in giving the correct combination of mouth-to-mouth and chest compressions is the best option, experts have said.
New CPR guidelines are set to be published by the UK Resuscitation Council. A combination of mouth-to-mouth breaths and chest compressions, known as cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR), is given to a patient having a heart attack, cardiac arrest or similar life-threatening emergency.
The survival rates of people treated by untrained members of the public receiving directions over the phone from the emergency services have been analysed by doctors from the Medical University of Vienna in Austria.
Untrained bystanders are more likely to perform uninterrupted chest compressions if they avoid mouth-to-mouth breaths during CPR, said Dr Peter Nagele, from the university's department of anaesthesiology, critical care and pain therapy. In turn, this increases the chances of CPR being successful.
Continuous, uninterrupted chest compressions are vital for successful CPR, said the study's authors.
Dr Jas Soar, chair of the Resuscitation Council from Southmead Hospital in Bristol, said: "Any CPR is better than no CPR. If you witness a cardiac arrest, dial 999 immediately. Those trained in CPR should follow existing guidance of 30 chest compressions followed by two rescue breaths.
"Those not trained should start compressions and follow instructions until an expert arrives," Dr Soar said.