A study finds that more lives will be saved if rescuers reduce the time between chest compressions and delivering a shock to people suffering cardiac arrest.
Dr. Sheldon Cheskes of St. Michael's Hospital in Toronto says the longer the pause, the lower the chances of the patient surviving to being discharged by hospital.
He recommends that less than 10 seconds should elapse, and he says his emergency medics are aiming for less than five seconds between completing cardiopulmonary resuscitation and a decision to shock using a defibrillator.
Researchers examined the files of 815 patients at five Canadian and U.S. sites who had an out-of-hospital cardiac arrest and were treated by paramedics or firefighters between December 2005 and June 2007.
Cheskes says if the pre-shock pause is more than 20 seconds, chances of surviving to reach a hospital, be treated and discharged are 53 per cent less than if the pause is less than 10 seconds.
The study is published today in Circulation: Journal of the American Heart Association.