Thursday, May 26, 2011

Research Brief: Why Rescue Breathing is Still Important for Opioid Overdose Response

By Sharon Stancliff, MD, Medical Director, Harm Reduction Coalition

The American Heart Association now promotes “hands only CPR” for sudden cardiac arrest, leading to some confusion about how best to administer first aid in opioid overdose situations. Some studies have found that in sudden cardiac arrest, chest compressions alone are equal to or perhaps better than compressions combined with rescue breathing.

A new research brief by the Harm Reduction Coalition finds that this advice does not apply to cases of asphyxiation such as opioid overdose or drowning. A couple studies actually find worse outcomes when “hands only CPR” is used in these settings.

The take-home message? Rescue breathing remains vital in opioid overdose situations. By the time the victim is unconscious, the oxygen in the blood has been depleted, which means that replenishing oxygen is key.

For more information see the Harm Reduction Coalition alert.

Please circulate this alert widely!

Please share your comments and ideas on how to get the word out.

1 comment:

  1. brilliant information, sharon, thank you! as usual, you and HRC are ahead of the wave on critical information for people who use drugs. we just had a national OD TOT in thailand and this issue came up. people will be very happy to have your information, i am excited to convey it to them. thank you!