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Cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) is a series of steps to help a person who is not responding and has stopped breathing. CPR helps deliver oxygen rich blood to the body tissue when the body is not able to do this on its own.
CPR is given to a person who is not responding and has stopped breathing. Reasons for this may include:
The outcome will depend on the initial cause and how soon effective CPR was started. Many people are unable to regain a normal heartbeat after it has stopped.
The goal of the CPR is to provide blood flow to the heart, brain, and other vital organs until proper medical care can be given. The person is likely to die if CPR is not started immediately. Complications may include fracture of the ribs, broken teeth, infections, and puncture of the lung.
People with weakened bones have a higher risk of bone fractures from CPR. However, there is a greater risk of death if CPR is delayed or not done correctly.
When you see someone collapse or find someone unconscious, immediately check to see if the person is responsive. Tap the victim and ask: “Are you OK?” If the victim is unresponsive, follow these steps.
The length of time for CPR depends on the causes and response time of the emergency medical team.
The person is unconscious when CPR is given. The procedure does not hurt. Some people may complain of soreness in the chest after they are conscious.
The person should be taken to the hospital. They should go even if they has recovered. Emergency personnel will take over care when they arrive.
If a teen or adult is unresponsive, call for emergency medical services right away. If someone is with you, have that person call for emergency medical services right away while you begin CPR.
Caring for Kids—Canadian Paediatric Society
Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada
2005 American Heart Association (AHA) guidelines for cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) and emergency cardiovascular care (ECC) of pediatric and neonatal patients: pediatric basic life support. Pediatrics. 2006;117(5):e989-e1004.
2010 American Heart Association Guidelines for Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation and Emergency Cardiovascular Care. Circulation. 2010;122(18 Suppl 3):S640-S656. Available at: http://circ.ahajournals.org/content/122/18_suppl_3/S640.full.
Bardy, G.H. A critic's assessment of our approach to cardiac arrest. New Engl J of Med. 2011;364(4):374-375.
Heartsaver First Aid with CPR and AED. American Heart Association website. Available at: http://cpr.heart.org/AHAECC/CPRAndECC/Training/HeartsaverCourses/HeartsaverBloodbornePathogens/UCM_473181_Heartsaver-CPR-AED-Online-Part-1.jsp. Accessed December 21, 2017.
Neumar RW, Nolan JP, et al. Post-cardiac arrest syndrome: epidemiology, pathophysiology, treatment, and prognostication. A consensus statement from the International Liaison Committee on Resuscitation. Circulation. 2008;118(23):2452-2483.
Topjian AA, Berg RA, Nadkarni VM. Pediatric cardiopulmonary resuscitation: advances in science, techniques, and outcomes. Pediatrics. 2008;122(5):1086-1098.
Last reviewed November 2018 by EBSCO Medical Review Board Marcin Chwistek, MD Last Updated: 12/20/2014