November 21 2018 4 minutes read

Stayin Alive

Stayin Alive

Updated: Jul 4, 2023

What do the Bee Gees, Queen and Justin Bieber have in common? Or Gloria Gaynor, Abba and Hanson? Perhaps bad hairstyles and questionable taste in clothes?

While that may be the opinion of some, this article is going to highlight one thing they share. It’s actually about their music, rather than their sense of style. What they have in common is that they are all lifesavers.

They have all produced songs which have the ideal tempo for performing chest compressions during CPR. The rate at which CPR should be administered is a steady 100 beats per minute and believe it or not, Hanson’s MMMBop and Abba’s Dancing Queen fit the bill exactly. There are more than you might realise! Long lists of various other music with just the right tempo for CPR have been compiled.

You would be forgiven for thinking this all seems a bit frivolous, but there’s a very serious point to it. With around 30,000 out-of-hospital cardiac arrest incidents in the UK annually, the more people trained to perform CPR as first responders correlate with improved survival rates.

Like other types of skills training, CPR knowledge can fade without use, so making learning accessible and easy to remember is imperative.

Finding the right rhythm

One of the things that people learning CPR often ask is whether the chest compressions are performed at the right speed. A study undertaken in the US several years ago found people were hesitant about doing CPR because they were unsure about keeping to the right rhythm. When you consider that early CPR can as much as triple the chances of survival when correctly performed, it is easy to see why those conducting the study were determined to find a way to memorise chest compressions easier.

The study involved doctors and students administering CPR on mannequins while listening to various music. This enabled them to identify certain songs that helped maintain an optimal number of chest compressions during CPR.

One song stood out like a sore thumb. The Bee Gees Stayin’ Alive has an almost perfect rhythm for performing CPR. At 103 beats per minute, it has just 3 beats more than the recommended 100 chest compressions per minute. Not only that, it also has the perfect title to help people remember. There’s a good chance that the song is going through your head right now, as you read this article. That’s why it has become something of a favourite for CPR trainers up and down the country.

The research also identified many other songs that helped people remember how to perform chest compressions at the right speed.

So, who’s on the list?

If the Bee Gees song Stayin’ Alive isn’t to your taste, then hopefully there are other performers to get your rhythm going. There’s Simon and Garfunkel, Missy Elliott, Justin Timberlake, Michael Jackson, Beyonce, Lady Gaga, Pink Floyd, Marvin Gaye, Adele and many more.

What better way to remember the rhythm of CPR than humming one of your favourite songs? A song that will spring readily to mind, with a tune that’s easy to recall. A song that is so familiar to you, with such a compelling beat, that you will find yourself performing chest compressions at exactly the right speed, almost without having to think about it.

Some of the song titles might seem a little inappropriate. It’s understandable if you don’t want to perform CPR to the strains of Queen’s Another One Bites the Dust, Justin Bieber’s Sorry, Mariah Carey’s Heartbreaker or Norman Greenbaum’s Spirit in the Sky.

Maybe you’d prefer to perform CPR to Missy Elliott’s Work It, T’Pau’s Heart and Soul, Justin Timberlake’s Rock Your Body or Robyn’s Hang with Me. Or, perhaps your anthem of choice might be Gloria Gaynor’s aptly entitled I Will Survive.

Whatever your musical preferences, the New York Presbyterian Hospital has made things a little easier for all of us by compiling a CPR playlist of 40 tracks, called Songs to do CPR, which is available on Spotify.

Maybe you’ll find it easiest of all to stick with the CPR classic performed by the Bee Gees. That way whether you’re a brother or a mother, you’ll be humming stayin’ alive to keep your rhythm on track.

For information on our CPR training, please check out……

Level 3 Award in First Aid at Work

Level 3 Award in Emergency First Aid at Work

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