June 01, 2018

CPR basics

The lifesaving technique cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) is often useful when someone's breathing or heartbeat has stopped. Here are steps you can take to help save a life:

  • Call for help — Call 911 or emergency medical help before beginning CPR, or have someone else call. The dispatcher can instruct you until help arrives.
  • Don't attempt rescue breaths — In most cases it's unnecessary to do mouth-to-mouth breaths. Chest compression alone is just as effective. Traditional CPR with rescue breaths is recommended only for infants, children, anyone experiencing a drowning, a drug overdose or a collapse due to breathing problems.
  • Begin chest compressions — Place the person face up on a firm surface. Kneeling next to the person's neck and shoulders, place the heel of one hand over the center of the person's chest with your other hand over it. Use your upper body weight as you compress the chest between 2 and 2.5 inches. Press hard and fast at a rate of about 100 to 120 compressions a minute.
  • Follow a strong beat— Perform compressions to the beat of an up-tempo song such as "Stayin' Alive" by the Bee Gees or "I Walk the Line" by Johnny Cash.
  • Use a defibrillator — An automated external defibrillator (AED) provides an electric shock that can restore heart rhythm. If available, follow the prompts to deliver one shock, then resume CPR until help arrives or the person regains...