Japanese researchers suggested that patients who suffered sudden heart attacks may be better off with subsequent cardio-pulmonary resuscitation (CPR) alone then CPR followed by mouth-to-mouth ventilations.

Following current guidelines, a heart attack sufferer should be given CPR with 30 chest compressions followed by two mouth-to-mouth ventilations.

New study results offer insight into how mouth-to-mouth rescue breathing might hamper the chances of survival in a cardiac arrest patient. Chest compressions alone have proven enough for revival of a person whose heart has stooped beating and that this procedure performed alone could actually prevent brain damage.

After a person experiences a sudden heart attack, there is sufficient oxygen in the blood to revive the body until the heart resumes its function. If chest compression is stopped in order to give mouth-to-mouth, this could reduce blood flow and lead to brain damage. Only few people who suffered brain damage during a heart attack manage to survive.

So, pumping heart to increase blood flow should not be stopped for any reason as it could impair the flow to the brain.

Japanese researchers examined data from 4,068 adults who suffered sudden heart attack outside hospitals. All of them were surrounded by bystanders when their heart stopped beating.

Among the 4,000 patients 18 % received traditional CPR with mouth-to-mouth breathing, 11% received chest compressions alone and the others receive no emergency help from bystanders. Nineteen percent of the people who received chest-only compressions survived without any brain damage but only about 11% of the conventional CPR group. Only 8 % of sudden heart attack patients who did not receive any assistance from bystanders managed to survive without significant brain damage.

Doctors from the University of Texas Southwestern Medical School agreed Japanese observations but stress that mouth-to-mouth ventilation was a valuable tool in people who suffered respiratory arrest like those who drowned or were victims of drug overdose.

The American Heart Association supported compression-only approach only in cases where bystanders were unwilling or unable to provide ventilations while providing chest compressions.

Bystanders often have fear about contracting an infection from administering mouth to mouth breathing. However, bystanders can increase patients’ chances of survival by administering chest compressions quickly