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Yes, CPR should be performed at the same tempo as the disco song ‘Stayin’ Alive’

Advice given in an episode of “The Office” is accurate. Administering CPR at the same beat as the hit song by The Bee Gees could help save a life.

More than 350,000 cardiac arrests happen outside of hospitals each year, according to the American Heart Association (AHA). About 90% of people who experience cardiac arrest outside of a hospital setting dies, the AHA says.

One way to help prevent a cardiac arrest death is to perform CPR, which is shorthand for cardiopulmonary resuscitation. However, the AHA estimates 70% of Americans don’t know how to administer CPR or are afraid of hurting the person suffering cardiac arrest.

In an episode of the TV show “The Office,” employees at the fictional Dunder Mifflin paper company receive CPR training, during which they’re told to apply chest compressions at the same beat as The Bee Gees’ classic disco song “Stayin’ Alive.”

THE QUESTION

Should CPR be performed at the same tempo as the song “Stayin’ Alive”?

THE SOURCES

THE ANSWER

This is true.

Yes, CPR should be performed at the same tempo as the song “Stayin’ Alive.”

WHAT WE FOUND

While performing CPR, people should apply chest compressions at a rate of 100 to 120 beats per minute, according to the American Heart Association (AHA). One way to know the speed of 100 beats per minute, the AHA says, is to remember the beat to “Stayin’ Alive.”

“Push hard and fast in the center of the chest to the beat of the disco song ‘Stayin’ Alive,’” the AHA says in an FAQ about performing CPR.

In an informational video, the AHA shows people practicing CPR to the beat of “Stayin’ Alive.”

“Stayin’ Alive” isn’t the only song that can help people remember how fast to administer chest compressions. NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital created a Spotify playlist with more than 50 songs that it says are 100 to 120 beats per minute -- ideal for CPR. A few songs included in the playlist: Marvin Gaye’s “What’s Going On,” Gnarls Barkley’s “Crazy” and Hanson’s “MMMBop.”

“Pick one to remember in case you ever need to save a life,” the hospital says about the playlist.

CPR should be administered to people who suffer cardiac arrest, which is different than a heart attack, according to the American Red Cross.

“Remember that a heart attack occurs when blood flow to part of the heart muscle is blocked, causing part of the heart muscle to die,” the Red Cross says. “On the other hand, cardiac arrest occurs when the heart stops beating or beats too ineffectively to circulate blood to the brain and other vital organs. A person in cardiac arrest is not responsive, not breathing and has no heartbeat.”

The Red Cross, AHA and NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital provide instructions for administering hands-only CPR, which the AHA says is just as effective as CPR with breaths in the first few minutes of cardiac arrest.

Those groups say people who witness cardiac arrest should do two things: call 911 and administer chest compressions.

“Kneel over the victim. With straight arms and interlocked hands, push hard and fast on [the] chest. 2 compressions per second at least 2 inches deep,” NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital says.

You can watch an instructional video from the AHA below.

The CPR training scene from “The Office” reportedly helped one father remember the proper CPR technique to help save his daughter’s life. In an Indianapolis Star report from June 2021, the father told the news organization he never had CPR training but the first thing that came to his mind when his daughter experienced cardiac arrest was the episode from “The Office” that featured “Stayin’ Alive.”

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