Annals of Biomedical Engineering

, Volume 15, Issue 3–4, pp 385–403 | Cite as

Intrathoracic pressure fluctuations move blood during CPR: Comparison of hemodynamic data with predictions from a mathematical model

  • Henry R. Halperin
  • Joshua E. Tsitlik
  • Rafael Beyar
  • Nisha Chandra
  • Alan D. Guerci


Whether blood flow during cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) results from intrathoracic pressure fluctuations or direct cardiac compression remains controversial. We developed a mathematical model that predicts that blood flow due to intrathoracic pressure fluctuations should be insensitive to compression rate over a wide range but dependent on the applied force and compression duration. If direct compression of the heart plays a major role, however, the model predicts that flow should be dependent on compression rate and force, but above a threshold, insensitive to compression duration. These differences in hemodynamics produced by changes in rate and duration form a basis for determining whether blood flow during CPR results from intrathoracic pressure fluctuations or from direct cardiac compression. The model was validated for direct cardiac compression by studying the hemodynamics of cyclic cardiac deformation following thoracotomy in four anesthetized, 21–32-kg dogs. As predicted by the model, there was no change in myocardial or cerebral perfusion pressures when the duration of compression was increased from 15% to 45% of the cycle at a constant rate of 60/min. There was, however, a significant increase in perfusion pressures when rate was increased from 60 to 150/min at a constant duration of 45%. The model was validated for intrathoracic pressure changes by studying the hemodynamics produced by a thoracic vest (vest CPR) in eight dogs. The vest contained a bladder that was inflated and deflated. Vest CPR changed intrathoracic pressure without direct cardiac compression, since sternal displacement was <0.8 cm. As predicted by the model and opposite to direct cardiac compression, there was no change in perfusion pressures when the rate was increased from 60 to 150/min at a constant duration of 45% of the cycle. Manual CPR was then studied in eight dogs. There was no surgical manipulation of the chest. Myocardial and cerebral blood flows were determined with radioactive microspheres and behaved as predicted from the model of intrathoracic pressure, not direct cardiac compression. At nearly constant peak sternal force (378–426 N), flow was significantly increased when the duration of compression was increased from short (13%–19% of the cycle) to long (40%–47%), at a rate of 60/min. Flow was unchanged, however, for an increase in rate from 60 to 150/min at constant compression duration. In addition, myocardial and cerebral flow correlated with their respective perfusion pressures. Thus vital organ perfusion pressures and flow for manual external chest compression are dependent on the duration of compression, but not on rates of compression of 60 and 150/min. These data are of course similar to those produced by vest CPR, where intrathoracic pressure is manipulated without sternal displacement, and to those predicted for movement of blood by intrathoracic pressure changes. These data are, however, opposite to those produced by cardiac deformation and to those predicted for movement blood by direct cardiac compression. We conclude that intrathoracic pressure fluctuations generate blood flow during manual CPR.


Cardiopulmonary resuscitation Mathematical model Intrathoracic pressure 





external pressure


transmural pressure






unstressed volume






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Copyright information

© Pergamon Journals Ltd. 1987

Authors and Affiliations

  • Henry R. Halperin
    • 1
  • Joshua E. Tsitlik
    • 1
  • Rafael Beyar
    • 1
  • Nisha Chandra
    • 1
  • Alan D. Guerci
    • 1
  1. 1.Peter Belfer Laboratory for Myocardial Research Cardiology Division, Department of MedicineThe Johns Hopkins Medical InstitutionsBaltimore
  2. 2.Cardiology DivisionThe Johns Hopkins HospitalBaltimore

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