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Toilet Plunger Rescue Leads To New CPR Procedure

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A toilet plunger. (credit: AP)

A toilet plunger. (credit: AP)

CBS DFW (con't)

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FORT WORTH (KRLD) - The lowly bathroom plunger and a quick-thinking teenager may get the credit for a new CPR procedure.

It’s called Active Compression-Decompression or ‘suction cup’ CPR and gives the chest both compressions and decompressions.

A new study shows the technique increases cardiac arrest, out of hospital, survival rates by 53 percent.

The technique came about after a cardiologist heard about a boy who used a plunger on his dad’s chest, during a heart attack, and revived him.

“And he said, ‘Ha’, yeah there’s something to that actually, physiologically, in terms of not just pumping but pulling blood back into the chest,” explained Dr. Paul Pepe, head of emergency medicine at UT Southwestern in Dallas, who was a reviewer of the study.

The doctor copied the technique and a new study says it could actually save more lives than giving standard chest compressions.

“If these results really are applicable across the country this could translate into thousands, if not tens of thousands, of lives that might be saved,” said Dr. Pepe.

Dr. Pepe says the technique, which attaches a suction cup to the patient’s chest and lifts it after each compression, could be great news. “We think this is a tool to help enhance circulation and in this preliminary study it seems to improve the outcome pretty significantly.”

A meeting of EMS officials from across the country next month in Dallas could bring a decision to begin using the new technique.

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