When Is CPR Necessary?

When to do CPR
When Should You Give CPR?

Hands Only CPR

CPR or cardiopulmonary resuscitation should be used on adults who:

1. Unexpectedly collapse.
2. Stop breathing.
3. Are unresponsive when you talk to them.
4. Have no pulse.

The chances are they have suffered a sudden cardiac arrest (SCA), meaning their heart has stopped beating. There are many things that can cause this to happen, including a heart attack and electric shock. People who develop SCA only have a few minutes to receive treatment before they die. In fact only about 6 percent of victims stricken outside of hospital usually survive. According to recent guidelines by the American Heart Association, SCA victims can now be treated by pressing their chest alone - there is no need to perform conventional CPR which involves the use of mouth to mouth breathing. This is because studies show that the victim still has ample air in their lungs and blood to feed their heart and brain. It is hoped that the easier hands-only guidelines will make bystanders who see a person collapse more inclined to jump in and perform CPR. Hands only CPR is easier to do and removes the barrier many people have about mouth to mouth breathing.

How To Do It

All you have to do is dial 911 and push hard and fast on the person's chest about 100 beats a minute (image). Keep doing this until an ambulance arrives or someone arrives with an automated external defibrillator (AED) (image). If you are trained in CPR you can combine chest compressions and rescue breaths (stick to hands only if your training feels a little rusty). See also, how is hands only CPR performed?

What If I'm Not Sure If It's Sudden Cardiac Arrest?

While not all people who suddenly collapse have had a SCA, the vast majority probably do. So taking immediate action and performing hands only CPR can only save their life. Don’t be afraid. You will not make the situation worse - the only thing you can do is double their chance of survival. If they have collapsed for reasons other than SCA, then CPR can still help by making them breath or speak. If they start breathing again, CPR can be stopped. Otherwise, continue until emergency services arrive.

Conventional Mouth And Hands CPR

In certain cases, conventional CPR is a better option because the patient is more likely to have breathing problems. This includes:
• A child who collapses.
• Someone who is drowning.
• A person who has taken a drug overdose.
• Carbon monoxide poisoning victims.
In these instances the victims need mouth to mouth to get air into their bloodstream and lungs. If you are not comfortable or trained to perform rescue breaths, then the hands only method is still better than nothing.

Essential Training!

Anyone can learn CPR in less than 2 minutes. Sadly 70 percent of Americans still do not know what to do in the case of sudden cardiac arrest. Instead they watch their loved ones die, unable to help. 80 percent of cardiac arrests happen in the home, so the chances are the victim will be someone you know or love. So remember, don't be afraid, you can only help. If you see an adult who has collapsed, is not breathing normally and is unresponsive, push hard and fast on their chest. Prepare yourself for such an emergency by watching this 2 minute video.

• More information on congestive heart failure or heart attacks in women
• Got another question? See: Womens Health Questions

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