Although a recent study has called into question the role of rescue breathing during cardiopulmonary resuscitation, American Red Cross officials say teaching practices will remain unchanged - for now.
According to an article published in the New England Journal of Medicine, compression-only CPR yielded improved outcomes for some patients during a study than traditional methods that included compressions and rescue breaths.
"We're still teaching the two breaths and 30 (chest) compressions," said Beverly Walker, American Red Cross Northeast Georgia Chapter community relations officer.
CPR is often administered to people who are believed to be in cardiac arrest, meaning their heart has stopped functioning properly. During cardiac arrest, a patient's heart stops beating regularly and falls into a random, twitching pattern. Because the heart isn't beating, blood stops flowing through the body, rendering the victim unconscious.
Chest compressions help circulate blood to vital organs like the brain and heart, while the rescue breaths help provide oxygen. If the brain is without oxygen for around six minutes, permanent damage may occur, experts say.
According to the American Heart Association, in instances of cardiac arrest, CPR helps to keep organs active until the heart can be "restarted" with an electric shock from an automated external defibrillator or AED.
"The prices for (portable) AEDs has really come down, so most companies can afford to purchase one," Walker said.
"Just about every company in Gainesville has one - the schools have them too."
Although changes in teaching practices haven't been made yet, Walker said the American Red Cross is reviewing all of its programs and may make some updates sometime next year.
"We know it's easier to learn the compression-only CPR. We also know that it is the (version) to most likely be performed by bystanders," Walker said.
"But we still encourage people to get trained in full CPR. In some instances - especially with infants and children - the rescue breaths may be critical to recovery."