The American Heart Association (AHA) has told medics to mask up before giving CPR to people with Covid-19 despite a “dramatic” drop in heart attack survival rates.
In a bulletin published in the medical journal Circulation on Monday, researchers from the AHA tightened their stance on personal protective equipment (PPE) during heart resuscitation while implicitly acknowledging that this might lead to more patient deaths.
Whereas previous guidance from October had said that “chest compressions should not be delayed” for the donning of PPE, the new guidance says “all healthcare providers” should wear an N95 respirator and protective garments when dealing with confirmed or suspected Covid patients.
Instead of saying that “some components” of CPR are believed to generate airborne particles that can spread the disease, the new guidance says “all components” of the procedure are dangerous, citing US public health authorities.
That is despite a sharp fall in survival rates for patients with heart attacks during the pandemic, which the researchers believe may be driven in part by the need to wear PPE before giving CPR and the extra fatigue exerted on medics when wearing it.