June 11, 1996
Media Contact: John Cramer
Phone: (410) 955-1534
Popular television shows such as "ER" inaccurately portray cardiopulmonary resuscitation and may contribute to public confusion and misinformed decisions about when to attempt life-saving treatments, according to results of a study to be published in the June 13 issue of The New England Journal of Medicine.
Emergency medicine physicians at Johns Hopkins, where CPR was invented and researchers continue to investigate methods to improve the technique, are available for interviews about the study, which was done by the Veterans Affairs Medical Center and Duke University.
The study is embargoed until 5 p.m., EST, Wednesday, June 12.
CPR was discovered accidentally at Hopkins in the 1950s by an electrical engineer testing another Hopkins invention, the cardiac defibrillator. While testing the device on dogs, he noticed that the animal's blood pressure rose from the weight of the current-carrying paddles alone. Working with physicians, he discovered they could keep a cardiac-arrested dog alive by rhythmically pressing on its sternum. In 1958, a Hopkins surgeon successfully used the technique to revive a two-year-old child. Since then, CPR-trained health care workers and laymen have used the technique to save thousands of lives. In 1981, Hopkins researchers invented the CPR vest, a compressed air device that squeezes the chest and pushes blood to the patient's heart and brain. The vest has been shown to be more effective than manual CPR. Federal regulators have proposed changing regulations to allow such devices to be tested more readily.