The physiological effects and quality of chest compressions during CPR at sea level and high altitude

Jen Chun Wang, Shih Hung Tsai, Yu Long Chen, Chin Wang Hsu, Kuan Cheng Lai, Wen I. Liao, Ling Yuan Li, Wei Fong Kao, Ju Sing Fan, Ying Hsin Chen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

19 Citations (Scopus)


Methods Thirty-eight participants were asked to performed continuous chest compression CPR (CCC-CPR) for 5 minutes at sea level and at high altitude. Cardiopulmonary resuscitation recording technology was used to objectively quantify the quality of the chest compressions (CCs), including the depth and rate thereof.

Background Rescuers that undergo acute ascent without acclimatization can experience acute mountain sickness. Although performing cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) for a short period requires intensive effort at sea level, performing CPR at high altitude is even more exhausting and can endanger the rescuer. Therefore, we conducted a pilot study to compare the quality of resuscitation in health professionals at high altitude (3100 m) and that at sea level.

Results At high altitude, rescuers showed a statistically significant decrease in blood oxygen saturation and an increase in systolic blood pressure, diastolic blood pressure, heart rate, and fatigue, as measured with the Borg score, after CCC-CPR compared with resting levels. The analysis of the time-dependent deterioration in the quality of CCC-CPR showed that the depth of CCs declined from the mean depth of the first 30 seconds after CCC-CPR to that at more than 120 seconds after CCC-CPR at both sea level and high altitude. The average number of effective CCs declined after CCC-CPR was performed for 1 minute at sea level and high altitude.

Conclusions The quality of CC rapidly declined at high altitude. At high altitude, the average number of effective CC decreases; and this decrease became significant after continuous CCs had been performed for 1 minute.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1183-1188
Number of pages6
JournalAmerican Journal of Emergency Medicine
Issue number10
Publication statusPublished - Oct 1 2014

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Emergency Medicine
  • Medicine(all)


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