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These CPR Basics Can Help Save a Life in an Emergency

June 5, 2018

If you see someone going into cardiac arrest the steps you take in the minutes that follow could save a life. Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation, or CPR, could make the difference. Even knowing some CPR basics can help in an emergency situation.

According to the American Heart Association more than 350,000 cardiac arrests happen outside a hospital each year in the United States. Research shows only 1 in 5 Americans is trained in CPR, and 90 percent of people who suffer out-of-hospital cardiac arrests die.

Everyone is encouraged to learn CPR, which can help double cardiac arrest survival rates by year 2020. CPR, if performed immediately and correctly, can double or triple a victim’s chance of survival. So, let’s learn some CPR basics that may help you help someone in an emergency.

CPR Basics: Check Breathing

Open the airway. With the person lying on his or her back, tilt the head back slightly to lift the chin. Listen carefully, for no more than 10 seconds, for sounds of breathing. (Occasional gasping sounds do not equate to breathing.) If there is no breathing begin CPR.

CPR Basics: Compressions

Push hard, push fast. Place your hands, one on top of the other, in the middle of the chest. Use your body weight to help you administer compressions that are at least 2 inches deep.

CPR Basics Include the Bee Gees

During CPR, you should push on the chest at a rate of 100 to 120 compressions per minute. The beat of the Bee Gees song “Stayin’ Alive” is a perfect match for this. It’s a CPR basic anyone can use.

CPR Basics: Rescue Breaths

With the person's head tilted back slightly and the chin lifted, pinch the nose shut and place your mouth over the person's mouth to make a complete seal. Deliver rescue breaths. Blow into the person's mouth to make the chest rise. Deliver two rescue breaths, then continue compressions.

If the chest does not rise with the initial rescue breath, re-tilt the head before delivering the second breath. If the chest doesn't rise with the second breath, the person may be choking. After each subsequent set of 100 chest compressions, and before attempting breaths, look for an object and, if seen, remove it.

CPR Basics: Time is Critical

It’s important to realize that you have to work fast. Remember—time is brain. The longer you wait could result in brain damage.

  • 0 to 4 minutes, unlikely development of brain damage
  • 4 to 6 minutes, possibility of brain damage
  • 6 to 10 minutes, high probability of brain damage
  • 10 minutes and over, likely brain damage

CPR Basics: Don’t Give Up

Keep performing cycles of chest compressions and breathing until the person exhibits signs of life. If an AED becomes available, you can stop compressions and use it on the person, or you can stop if an EMS or a trained medical responder arrives on scene.

Of all the CPR basics, studies show chest compressions can make a difference. If you would like to decrease your risk for a heart attack or cardiac arrest, make sure you’re giving your heart the respect it deserves. Our guide, “Heart Disease Facts that Could Change Your Life”, is a good place to start. In it you’ll find ways to prevent heart disease and what risk factors should matter most to you.

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