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Lifesaving chest compressions near-perfect when done to disco hit

October 15, 2008 | 12:05 pm

Travolta200 Finally, a reason to have lived through the 70s -- and another fine reason to relive one of disco's most enduring triumphs, the 1977 hit by the Brothers Gibb, "Stayin' Alive": it could save someone's life.

In performing Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation -- CPR -- the perfect rhythm is 100 compressions per minute, and done properly, it can triple a heart arrest victim's chances of survival. But how, when you're saving a life, do you achieve that ideal rhythm of life-saving compressions? Think "Stayin' Alive."

Medical students and physicians trained to perform CPR to the bouncing beat of "Stayin' Alive" maintained close to the ideal rhythm recommended by the American Heart Assn. for chest compressions during CPR, according to a study to be presented Oct. 27 at a Scientific Assembly of the American College of Emergency Physician's annual meeting.

The small study set five med students and 10 physicians to the task of performing CPR to the soundtrack of "Stayin' Alive," a song with exactly 103 beats per minute. Five weeks later (it's not clear whether they got to return to the "Saturday Night Fever" soundtrack for a little disco refresher), the subjects still had their CPR rhythms close to perfect, at an average of 113 beats per minute.

Sure there are other pop songs that clock in at close to 100 beats per minute, said Dr. David Matlock of the University of Illinois Medical School. But could you do better than "Stayin' Alive" under the circumstances?

-- Melissa Healy 

Photo credit: Paramount Pictures