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Alternative NamesCardiopulmonary resuscitation
Definition Return to top
CPR stands for cardiopulmonary resuscitation. It is an emergency lifesaving procedure that is performed when a person's own breathing or heartbeat have stopped, such as in cases of electric shock, heart attack, or drowning. CPR is a critical part of the ABC's of first response:
CPR combines rescue breathing and chest compressions. Rescue breathing provides oxygen to the person's lungs. Chest compressions keep oxygen-rich blood circulating until an effective heartbeat and breathing can be restored.
Permanent brain damage or death can occur within minutes if blood flow stops. Therefore, it is critical that blood flow and breathing be continued until trained medical help arrives.
CPR techniques vary slightly depending on the age or size of the patient.
See also:Update Date: 10/5/2008 Updated by: Jacob L. Heller, MD, Emergency Medicine, Virginia Mason Medical Center, Seattle, Washington, Clinic. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc.