Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation (CPR)

Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation (CPR)- Help Save Life

Cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) consists of the use of chest compressions and artificial ventilation to maintain circulatory flow and oxygenation during cardiac arrest (see the images below). Although survival rates and neurologic outcomes are poor for patients with cardiac arrest, early appropriate resuscitation—involving early defibrillation—and appropriate implementation of post–cardiac arrest care lead to improved survival and neurologic outcomes.

Causes of cardiac arrest

A cardiac arrest can be caused by many things and causes tend to differ from adults to children.

For adults, they may include:

  • heart disease – the most common cause of reversible adult cardiac arrest (70%)
  • trauma
  • respiratory illness
  • hanging.

For children, they may include:

  • SIDS – this is the leading cause of reversible cardiac arrest in children
  • cardiac disease (usually congenital)
  • trauma
  • respiratory illness.

CPR can be life-saving first aid

CPR can be life-saving first aid and increases the person’s chances of survival if started soon after the heart has stopped beating. If no CPR is performed, it only takes three to four minutes for the person to become brain dead due to a lack of oxygen.

By performing CPR, you circulate the blood so it can provide oxygen to the body, and the brain and other organs stay alive while you wait for the ambulance. There is usually enough oxygen still in the blood to keep the brain and other organs alive for a number of minutes, but it is not circulating unless someone does CPR. CPR does not guarantee that the person will survive, but it does give that person a chance when otherwise there would have been none.

If you are not sure whether a person is in cardiac arrest or not, you should start CPR. If a person does not require CPR, they will probably respond to your attempts. By performing CPR, you are unlikely to cause any harm to the person if they are not actually in cardiac arrest.

The basic steps of CPR

CPR is most successful when administered as quickly as possible. It should only be performed when a person shows no signs of life or when they are:

  • unconscious
  • unresponsive
  • not breathing or not breathing normally (in cardiac arrest, some people will take occasional gasping breaths – they still need CPR at this point. Don’t wait until they are not breathing at all).

It is not essential to search for a pulse when a person is found with no signs of life. It can be difficult to find a person’s pulse sometimes and time can be wasted searching. If CPR is necessary, it must be started without delay.

The basic steps for performing CPR can be used for adults, children and infants. They are based on guidelines updated in 2010 that are easy to follow and remember. This information is only a guide and not a substitute for attending a CPR course.

The basic steps are:
D – Dangers?
R – Response?
S – Send for help
A – Open airway
B – Normal breathing
C – Start CPR
D – Attach defibrillator (AED).

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