Carotid massage: a possible new cardiac resuscitation procedure

In our current resuscitation procedure for unconscious patients, we rationalize that by compressing the chest wall, we also compress the heart and the major arteries in the chest cavity, resulting in some arterial blood flow to vital organs like the brain. In the past, this procedure was called “cardio-pulmonary resuscitation”, but I believe we now feel the pulmonary component is unnecessary and omit it from the acronym.

On one of the TV channels this morning, which just happens to be Christmas Day 2014, it showed how apes were able to successfully resuscitate one of their own after the ape had been electrocuted on railway tracks rendering him unconscious on a railway platform below. As the startled passengers at the station looked on, with no one willing to come forward to offer first aid, one of the apes on the railway platform decided to take over.

The video showed how this non-human first aid worker first tried dipping their relative in puddle of water found between the tracks. When that was unsuccessful, he began what seemed to be a biting-like manoeuvre on the side of the neck. He continued this for 20 minutes.

As I looked more closely at this Youtube video which was shown on repeated broadcasts, it appeared to me that the ape may actually be applying pressure to the carotid artery or massaging it to move blood forward.

Could this is a more effective way of getting arterial perfusion passively to the brain than with the method we now use, namely compression of the chest wall?

Could our distant cousins the apes be giving us, their more advanced cousins, a special Christmas gift? A better CPR technique than the one we currently are using?

This approach may be worth further study. I vaguely seem to recall a lecture from my undergraduate medical study days (over 55 years ago) that there may be a collection of nerves in the carotid artery (a node) which if massaged can restart the heart beat. I must look this up on the internet. If I do find it I will post another blog with an update.

Incidentally, if carotid artery massage and/or whatever you want to call this procedure is found to be more effective, there would be no need to change the acronym – just substitute carotid for cardiac.

Author: Semeon Hrushovetz

Retired Physician, Researcher, Lifelong Learner. Promoting healthy aging and life extension. Visit or check my previous sites: blog: website: