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June 26th, 2009
05:03 PM ET

Learn CPR to Save Someone in Cardiac Arrest

By Elizabeth Cohen
CNN Medical Senior Correspondent

Dr. Kenneth Rosenfield, an interventional cardiologist at Massachusettts General Hospital, once had a patient whose life was saved because the man had a quick-thinking wife who knew the rhythm to the song “Staying Alive,”

The couple were taking a walk in the woods last year when he, like Michael Jackson, suffered cardiac arrest and collapsed. The man’s wife called 911, and then performed CPR on her husband for 15 minutes until the ambulance arrived.

“She saved his life, and when I asked her how she knew how to do CPR, she said she’d heard a one-minute spot on the radio from the American Heart Association that said to push very hard, 100 times per minute, to the tune of “Staying Alive,” Rosenfield says.

Getting CPR within minutes is crucial for someone who’s suffered from cardiac arrest, as brain death and permanent death start to occur just four to six minutes after the heart stops. More than 95 percent of cardiac arrest victims die before reaching the hospital, according to the AHA.

If more people knew CPR, many of these lives could have been saved, Rosenfield says. “I’ve had four or five patients saved by bystanders in the past year. It’s remarkable.”

Some of these lifesavers – like a high school senior who performed CPR on a man who’d collapsed in a clothing store – were trained in CPR. Others, like the woman who saved her husband, had no training but had heard the basics.

CPR is much easier than people think, Rosenfield says. “You should take a class, but it’s easier than it used to be. There’s no mouth to mouth. You push on the chest very hard and don’t worry about breaking a rib.”

The University of Washington has this video on how to do CPR. You can find a CPR class in your area on the websites of the American Red Cross and the American Heart Association.

Filed under: In the Newsroom
soundoff (15 Responses)
  1. Leo, TX

    Boring, unimaginative, nothing we don't already know. Everyone knows that taking CPR classes can help save lives. Common, now.

    June 26, 2009 at 5:53 pm |
  2. Jeremy Vaughn

    I don't know where to confront a concern I have after listening to the tape of the 9-1-1 call made for Michael Jackson. Anyone who is trained in CPR knows to put the victim on a hard service so that the compressions are more effective. However in the tapes the person on the phone states that MJ is on the bed, and that a MD is right there working on him, providing compressions. This raises a concern to me... Just want to be heard.

    June 26, 2009 at 6:15 pm |
  3. Sherrie Patton

    I'm sorry but I'd have been scared to touch him as well. Who knows what might happen. I think that the doctor with him was probably scared of malpractice in addition to the fact that MJ was just really an unknown entity at this point in his life.

    June 26, 2009 at 6:18 pm |
  4. Pauline

    Michael Jackson was a coveted and "fantasied" husband to many young girls, just as "Barbie" (the doll) is still coveted since her dayviewing years ago. Their only difference is Barbie is not a breathing being, now they share the same breathless stage.

    Question? Was Michael Jackson an organ donor? Were any of his body parts reserved for donation.

    June 26, 2009 at 6:54 pm |
  5. Lucia Lilien

    After hearing the exchange on the telephone with the 911 operatior regarding Michael Jackson, I have some serious issues. If CPR was being performed by someone who knew what to do, (ie a doctor) the first thing they should have done is place him on a hard surface like the floor. They said he was on the BED! The worst place to do CPR. Something is very fishy. Thanks Lucia Lilien RN

    June 26, 2009 at 7:10 pm |
  6. Vicki Hopkins

    On the tapes of the 911 call from Mr Jackson's home, the caller states that he is on the bed and the doctor is performing CPR. The operator tells them to put him on the floor to perform CPR. How is that a doctor does not know you have to have a hard surface behind your back in order for CPR to be effective? I'm glad he's not my wonder his efforts were unsucessfull!!

    June 26, 2009 at 7:10 pm |
  7. asia

    i am nine years old and i love micheal.and sence i was like 2 yearsold.i always danced to all of his songs.i cant believe he is dead and i am very sad.i was criying i just love him.i hope he sleep in you micheal!!!!

    June 26, 2009 at 7:47 pm |
  8. David Watson

    But ... how do you know if somebody is having a heart attack or heart arrest?

    June 26, 2009 at 8:15 pm |
  9. Daryl Hauser

    Pauline, Who would want any of his "donor" organs? This guy was "SICK"!

    June 27, 2009 at 10:31 am |
  10. Adrian, EMT

    at David Watson,

    The very very basic definition of "Cardiac Arrest" is that there is no heartbeat, and the easiest way to check that is to take a pulse by using your index and middle finger, and placing it into the crevace to the left or right of the "adam's apple". If there is no pulse, there is no heartbeat, so yo uneed to pump their heart manually by administering CPR

    June 27, 2009 at 12:35 pm |
  11. John Fallon

    I am so envious of Michael, he has gone to join the ancestors. He does not have to deal with these White devils and their racist ways any more. Now he can have the peace that so many of our brothers and sisters will never have here on Earth. I love to see our people in front of the Apollo and the Motown Museum. We are truly making the ancestors proud.

    June 27, 2009 at 5:00 pm |
  12. Celidah

    I am of the conviction that everyone should learn CPR. I must–or rather, the AHA must–clarify one of Rosenthal's statements, though. Although hands-only CPR is a viable basic method, traditional CPR is still being taught for a very important reason: hands-only CPR is excellent for cardiac arrest, which is mostly where it's needed. However, in situations with respiratory problems (e.g. drownings, drug overdoses), mouth-to-mouth is still needed. Don't believe me? Read the AHA website. Still, hands-only CPR is much better than nothing, and I applaud the wife who watched the Red Cross spot and used it!

    And yes, although I haven't listened to the tape, I can tell you that every single person is taught to put the person on a hard surface BEFORE starting CPR!!!! Adrian, isn't the AHA no longer recommending laypeople do a pulse check before starting CPR?

    June 27, 2009 at 6:35 pm |
  13. Linda White

    l know that the world will never forget Micheal he had so much for his fans.He will be missed very much.My heart goes out to his family.

    June 27, 2009 at 9:29 pm |
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