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During CPR, The American Heart Association (AHA) recommends giving chest compressions at a rate of 100/minute. But experts say that in practice, people tend to give too few. "Stayin' Alive," an aptly named disco hit from the 1970s, may provide just the right beat to keep rescuers on target, according to a recent small study.


Fifteen physicians and medical students at the University of Illinois Medical School at Peoria were instructed to perform chest compressions on a manikin in time to "Stayin' Alive," which they listened to on iPods. Five weeks later, they performed the same exercise without the music, but they were told to think of the music while working. The average number of chest compressions with the music was 109; without the music, 113.


Study participants delivered slightly more chest compressions than the AHA recommends, but more is better than less, says David Matlock, MD, who conducted the test. He found that the song helped participants maintain both the rhythm and the pace needed for effective CPR.


Performed by the Bee Gees, "Stayin' Alive" was featured in the movie "Saturday Night Fever." Because the catchy tune has about 100 beats per minute, the AHA has offered it as a training tip for CPR instructors for several years. But this is the first time anyone has tested its effectiveness. The study was presented at the American College of Emergency Physicians Scientific Assembly in Chicago.

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