Tuesday, October 28, 2008
October 28, 2008
Prevention: Chest Compressions, to a Disco Beat
By ERIC NAGOURNEY
Well, you can tell by the way he pounds your chest, he’s an E.R. man, and his tempo is best.
That’s right — “Stayin’ Alive,” the song some people might pay to get out of their head, may be just what their heart needs if it suddenly stops.
Researchers say the Bee Gees song, from the 1977 hit movie “Saturday Night Fever,” offers almost the perfect pace for performing chest compressions on people who have had heart attacks. Emergency workers doing cardiopulmonary resuscitation are advised to press down on the chest 100 times a minute. “Stayin’ Alive” has 103 beats a minute.
The findings were presented at a recent conference of the American College of Emergency Physicians by Dr. David Matlock of the University of Illinois College of Medicine at Peoria.
This is not to say that people would actually be forced to listen to the song.
“We’re not advocating turning on the song in the middle of a resuscitation,” Dr. Matlock said. “If it helps people to sing it out loud, I guess that’s O.K.”
For several years, Dr. Matlock said, emergency workers have been told that compressions done to the tempo of the song are more likely to conform to the recommendations of the American Heart Association. Doing it right can triple the survival rate, the researchers said. But no one had proved that the song actually helped.
For the study, researchers had 10 doctors and 5 medical students practice compressions while listening to the music. When they were retested five weeks later without the song, they did the compressions at an average rate of 113 a minute, within the acceptable range.
“Stayin’ Alive,” by the way, is not the only song found to be helpful. “Another One Bites the Dust,” by Queen, may also work.
“Obviously,” Dr. Matlock said, “ ‘Stayin’ Alive’s a little more appropriate for the situation.”