The American Heart Association issued new guidelines Monday recommending a change in the order of cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR).

The new guidelines revise the traditional ABC (Airway, Breathing, Compressions) approach to handing a cardiac arrest to CAB (Compressions, Airway and Breathing) after the old approach was causing delays in chest compressions, a crucial step to simulate a heart beating, which helps blood flow.

"By starting with chest compressions, that's easy to remember, and for many victims that alone will be lifesaving," said Michael R. Sayre, spokesman for the American Heart Association.

"Chest compressions are the most important part of CPR," said Sayre who is the co-author of the executive summary of the 2010 AHA guidelines for CPR and emergency cardiovascular care.

A cardiac arrest victim’s survival rate depends greatly on immediately getting CPR from someone nearby.

According to the AHA, less than 1/3 of those people who experience a cardiac arrest at home, work or in a public location get help. The association encourages bystanders not to be afraid and reminded them that their actions can only help.

As many as 300,000 Americans suffer cardiac arrests outside a hospital each year. The survival stats vary but remain consistently low at less than 10 percent.

Conventional CPR with breaths and compressions is however still recommended for infants and children; victims of drowning, drug overdose or other respiratory problems; and adult victims who are found already unconscious and not breathing normally.