Performing cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) on someone who may be suffering cardiac arrest can be challenging – particularly mouth-to-mouth respiration on a stranger.

People who find such a prospect off-putting or are fearful or unsure how to properly do it should skip artificial ventilation, recommends the German Heart Foundation (GHF).

When someone’s heart has stopped beating, chest compressions are the more important CPR measure, the GHF points out.

Without them, death comes quickly.

Of the estimated 70,000 people per year in Germany whose heart suddenly stops beating, about 65,000 die. Only a third of all bystanders without medical training render first aid, the GHF says.

If life-sustaining measures aren’t taken, the victim’s chances of survival drop by about 10% each minute – so death typically ensues in just 10 minutes.

Depending on where someone suffers cardiac arrest, there’s a good chance an ambulance won’t arrive at the scene in time.

So if you see someone collapse or lying on the ground, this is what you should do, says German cardiologist Dietrich Andresen:

Step 1: First, check whether the person is conscious by shaking the person’s shoulders and asking loudly whether he or she is OK.

Step 2: If the person doesn’t react, call the local emergency number or ask someone else to.

Remember that the Malaysian emergency number is 999.

During the call, it’s essential to describe exactly where the victim is.

Step 3: Begin chest compressions without delay: Put the victim on his or her back on a firm surface, kneel next to his or her shoulders and place the heel of one hand in the middle of an imaginary line between the nipples. Place the other hand on top of the first.

Step 4. Press straight down hard about five or six centimetres at a rate of 100 to 120 compressions a minute.

Pressing in time to the song Stayin’ Alive by the Bee Gees will result in about 100 compressions a minute, for example.

The exact location of the compressions is ultimately less critical than the act of pressing itself.

Step 5: It’s important not to stop the compressions. If your strength starts to wane, ask a bystander to take over for you. The new first-aider should kneel down on the other side of the victim, and then both of you should count down until the switch-over: “Three, two, one…”

Chest compressions restore circulation, enabling the transport to the brain of the remaining oxygen in the victim’s body.

The compressions should continue until an ambulance arrives and the emergency medical responders take over. – dpa