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Alternative Names Return to topCardiopulmonary resuscitation - adult; Rescue breathing and chest compressions - adult; Resuscitation - cardiopulmonary - adult
Definition Return to top
CPR is a lifesaving procedure that is performed when someone's breathing or heartbeat has stopped, as in cases of electric shock, drowning, or heart attack. CPR is a combination of:
Permanent brain damage or death can occur within minutes if a person's blood flow stops. Therefore, you must continue these procedures until the person's heartbeat and breathing return, or trained medical help arrives.
Considerations Return to top
CPR can be lifesaving, but it is best performed by those who have been trained in an accredited CPR course. The procedures described here are not a substitute for CPR training. (See www.americanheart.org for classes near you.)
Time is very important when dealing with an unconscious person who is not breathing. Permanent brain damage begins after only 4 minutes without oxygen, and death can occur as soon as 4 - 6 minutes later.
When a bystander starts CPR before emergency support arrives, the person has a much greater chance of surviving. Nevertheless, when most emergency workers arrive at a cardiac arrest, they usually find no one giving CPR.
Machines called automated external defibrillators (AEDs) can be found in many public places, and are available for home use. These machines have pads or paddles to place on the chest during a life-threatening emergency. They use computers to automatically check the heart rhythm and give a sudden shock if, and only if, that shock is needed to get the heart back into the right rhythm.
When using an AED, follow the instructions exactly.
Causes Return to top
In adults, major reasons that heartbeat and breathing stop include:
Symptoms Return to top
First Aid Return to top
The following steps are based on instructions from the American Heart Association.
If the person starts breathing again, place them in the recovery position. Periodically re-check for breathing until help arrives.
DO NOT Return to top
When to Contact a Medical Professional Return to top
Prevention Return to top
To avoid injuries and heart problems that can lead to cardiac arrest:
References Return to top
Emergency Cardiovascular Care Committee, Subcommittees, and Task Forces of the American Heart Association. 2005 American Heart Association Guidelines for Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation and Emergency Cardiovascular Care. Circulation. 2005;112(24 Suppl):IV1-203.
Marx JA, Hockberger RS, Walls RM, eds. Rosen’s Emergency Medicine: Concepts and Clinical Practice. 5th Ed. St. Louis, MO: Mosby; 2002;64-82.Update Date: 10/13/2008 Updated by: John E. Duldner, Jr., MD, MS, Assistant Professor of Emergency Medicine, Director of Research, Department of Emergency Medicine, Akron General Medical Center and Northeastern Ohio Universities College of Medicine. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc.