Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Stayin' Alive...literally!

Disco tune "Stayin' Alive" could save your life

U.S. doctors have found the Bee Gees 1977 disco anthem "Stayin' Alive" (Lawd Jesus, I love this song!) provides an ideal beat to follow while performing chest compressions as part of CPR on a heart attack victim. (So, in order to save someone’s life I just have to visualize John Travolta’s ass swinging back and forth to the soothing sounds of Barry Gibb’s falsetto? Cool.)

The American Heart Association calls for chest compressions to be given at a rate of 100 per minute in cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR). "Stayin' Alive" almost perfectly matches that, with 103 beats per minute. (I always knew this song was bitchin’! But this is awesome!)

CPR is a lifesaving technique involving chest compressions alone or with mouth-to-mouth rescue breathing. (So, I use the Bee Gees for chest compressions, I got that. But who, oh who do I model the mouth-to-mouth after?) It is used in emergencies such as cardiac arrest in which a person's breathing or heartbeat has stopped.

CPR can triple survival rates, but some people are reluctant to do it in part because they are unsure about the proper rhythm for chest compressions. (And the answer is the Bee Gees? Does this theory only apply to ‘Stayin’ Alive or their entire discography? Because ‘Jive Talkin’ might be a life saver too. Or you might just get your ass kicked.) But research has shown many people do chest compressions too slowly during CPR.

In a small study headed by Dr. David Matlock of the University of Illinois College of Medicine at Peoria, listening to "Stayin' Alive" helped 15 doctors and medical students to perform chest compressions on dummies at the proper speed. (Was this a remedial medical school? It’s kind of frightening that the doctors and medical students couldn’t keep count during CPR without the help of three Aussies wearing jeans so tight they sing like girls).

Five weeks after practicing with the music playing, they were asked to perform CPR again on dummies (like mice and their cheese) by keeping the song in their minds, and again they kept up a good pace. (Think any of them sang along? ‘Well you can tell by the way I use my walk, I’m a woman’s man, no time for talk’).

"The theme 'Stayin' Alive' is very appropriate for the situation, (no pun right Dr. Feelgood?)" Matlock said in a telephone interview on Thursday. "Everybody's heard it at some point in their life. People know the song and can keep it in their head." (And herein lies the problem. You get that song stuck in your head for daaaayyyyssss. You'll be minding your own bidness, picking out a sammich at Subway and you'll find yourself humming, "Ah, Ah, Ah, Ah Stayin' Alive, Stayin' Alive. You just sang along, didn't you?)

The findings will be presented this month at a meeting of the American College of Emergency Physicians in Chicago. (I wonder if Barry Gibb will give the keynote?)

(Writing by Will Dunham; Editing by David Storey)

Okay, a gold star to the person who can tell me in which Star Wars movie the Wookie sings the chorus from ‘Stayin’ Alive’.

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