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Cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) is an emergency procedure used to provide breathing and blood circulation for someone experiencing cardiac arrest. There are different CPR procedures for adults and children; this article describes CPR for adults.
Cardiac arrest occurs when your breathing and heartbeat stop and is deadly if untreated. Symptoms of cardiac arrest include:
A heart attack can cause cardiac arrest. However, cardiac arrest and a heart attack aren’t the same. You don’t necessarily need to perform CPR on a person having a heart attack.
Common causes of cardiac arrest include:
Always call 9-1-1 when someone is displaying these symptoms. CPR can help prevent loss of life while you are waiting for an ambulance to arrive.
The goal of CPR is to resuscitate a person whose breathing or pulse has stalled. The technique involves rescue breathing, as well as, chest compressions.
Before getting started, remember to focus on circulation, airway, and breathing (CAB).
It is also important to know that techniques vary between CPR procedures for adults, children, and infants. Never perform adult CPR on children.
The result greatly depends on how long the person has been in cardiac arrest, as well as, the severity of his or her condition. CPR may help start a person’s pulse and start them breathing again. Continuously check for breathing until emergency medical help arrives.
Waiting for an ambulance without performing CPR can have serious health consequences. A lack of blood and oxygen flow can cause permanent brain damage. Death can occur in worse case scenarios. This is why it is so important to initiate CPR as soon as possible. Call 9-1-1 before performing CPR, or have someone else place the call.
Cardiac arrest can occur anywhere, at any time, and CPR is a valuable tool to help others in life-threatening situations. Learning CPR can save someone’s life. If a loved one has heart or coronary artery disease, it is even more important to learn the procedure.
Learning from a professional instructor is the most effective way to learn the details. Visit redcross.org for a list of free CPR classes in your area. Retake a CPR class every two years to make sure your skills are intact.
Written by: Kristeen Moore
Medically reviewed by George Krucik, MD
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