Today, the physiology of blood flow during external chest compression appears more complicated than had previously been imagined. New evidence requires that at least two possible mechanisms be considered for generating artificial circulation by external chest compression. The first is the classical mechanism in which the heart propels blood because it is squeezed between the sternum and the spine. The second is a more recently appreciated mechanism in which the entire thorax acts as a pump because of global intrathoracic pressure changes. The first might be called the cardiac pump mechanism and the second might be called the thoracic pump mechanism. In this article, the author will endeavor to describe these two mechanisms, identify their similarities and differences, and discuss their significance in the search for improved CPR techniques.


This is the author accepted manuscript of Babbs C.F., New versus old theories of blood flow during cardiopulmonary resuscitation, Critical Care Medicine 8, 191-195, 1980. Copyright Lippincott, Williams & Wilkins, the version of record is available at http://journals.lww.com/ccmjournal/Citation/1980/03000/New_versus_old_theories_of_blood_flow_during_CPR_.26.aspx.

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