Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation

Performing CPR




What Is CPR?
Hands Only CPR
Conventional CPR
How To Perform Conventional CPR
Where Can I Find Out About CPR Courses?

Related Guides:

Congestive Heart Failure
Heart Attacks in Women

What Is CPR?

CPR or cardiopulmonary resuscitation is a life saving procedure most commonly carried out on victims whose hearts have stopped due to sudden cardiac arrest (SCA). Traditional CPR consists of giving chest compressions and breathing into a person's mouth to keep oxygen circulating (image). However, since 2010 the American Heart Association (AHA) has issued new guidelines and now states that hands-only CPR is adequate for most untrained people (image). This is good news for future SCA victims, because by simplifying CPR methods, it increases the chance of passersby performing it. Studies indicate that the hands only method is just as effective as traditional CPR - although those who are qualified and confident in traditional methods can still continue to use it. Both hands-only and traditional methods described below are recommended for adults and children over the age of 8. This advice is not meant to replace that provided by an accredited first-aid training course.

So What’s The Point Of Learning Conventional CPR?

While the hands on method of giving CPR can save a person's life that has just collapsed with SCA, the AHA still recommends CPR with breaths for infants and children, people drowning and those who have taken a drug overdose. See: When is CPR necessary? Also, all courses now additionally teach the hands only method, so this provides some practice before being faced with a real life incident.

Hands Only CPR

The hands only method should be performed on people who have suffered SCA. The warning signs of SCA are:

• Person collapses unconscious.
• Loss of responsiveness (no response to tapping on shoulders and does nothing if asked if they are OK).
• Stops breathing.
• No pulse.

The most common reasons the heart suddenly stops beating are heart attacks and electric shock. To learn how to give hands-only CPR, see: How is hands only CPR performed? If you have other queries, see womens health questions.

Conventional CPR

Only perform conventional CPR if you have received training and are still confident in your ability to perform it. Start CPR with 30 chest compressions before checking the airway and giving rescue breaths. If you are not confident, or a little rusty, stick to the hands only method instead.

Before Starting CPR Check:
1. Is the person unconscious?
2. If they look like they are unconscious, shake their shoulder and ask loudly if they are OK.
3. If there is no response and 2 people are present, one should dial 911 and the other should begin CPR. If you are alone with the victim, dial 911 first and then start CPR. If you think the person is unresponsive because of suffocation due drowning for example, this is a special case. Begin CPR for one minute and then dial 911.
4. If an automated external defibrillator (AED, image) is available, use this immediately and then begin CPR.

How To Perform Conventional CPR

The latest guidelines by the AHA provide the following steps called CAB (it used to be ABC, but the order has changed):

C: Circulation
A: Airway
B: Breathing

C: Circulation
Aim: To restore blood circulation with chest compressions.
1.Place the person on their back, ideally on a firm surface.
2. Kneel next to their shoulders.
3. Place your hands over the center of the person's chest and lock together. Keep your elbows straight and your shoulders directly over your hands.
4. Use your body weight to press down on the chest for at least 5cm (2 inches). Push hard at a rate of 100 compressions a minute.
5. If you have not trained in CPR, continue doing this until medical help arrives. If you have trained, stop at 30 compressions and continue onto the airway and breathing sections.

CPR Instructions
Position of hands to perform CPR

A: Airway
Aim: To clear the airway passage.
1. At 30 compressions, open the person's airway by first tilting the head back. Place your palm on their forehead and tilt the head back. Then take the other hand and lift the chin up to open the airway.
2. Check for normal breathing; taking no more than 5 to 10 seconds. Look for chest motion or feeling of breath on your cheek. Gasping is not considered normal breathing.
3. If they are not breathing normally start mouth to mouth breathing resuscitation.

B: Breathing
Aim: To restore circulation.
1. Pinch the nostrils shut and cover the person's mouth with yours.
Give one breath lasting 1 second and watch to see if the chest rises. If it does, give a second breath.
2. If the chest does not rise, repeat the head and chin tilt and only then give the second breath.
3. Follow with another 30 compressions and 2 rescue breaths. This is considered one cycle.
4. Continue CPR until there are signs of movement or medical personnel take over.

Where Can I Find Out About CPR Courses?

A list of first aid courses in your area which include CPR training are provided by the following organizations:


The American Heart Association
Use the Find A Class, ECC class connector tool.

United Kingdom
British Heart Foundation
Use the Heartstart Training tool to find a trainer in your area.

The Irish Red Cross

Learn To Spot The Symptoms
All of the following heart conditions can lead to cardiac arrest, so it is worth recognizing the symptoms:
Silent Heart Attacks
Heart Attack Signs
Signs of Heart Failure

  Related Articles on CPR

For more heart problems, see the following:

Causes of Heart Failure
Diagnosis of Heart Failure
Heart Failure Surgery
Home Defibrillator

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