Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation CPR
Cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) is a combination of
mouth-to-mouth resuscitation and chest compressions that delivers
oxygen and artificial blood circulation to a person who is in
cardiac arrest. It can be life-saving first aid.
A ‘heart attack’ occurs when the heart is starved of oxygen. A
heart attack can ‘stun’ the heart and interrupt its rhythm and
ability to pump. If the heart stops pumping, it is known as a
cardiac arrest. This is because the heart does not receive enough
oxygen and cannot pump blood around the body. There is no heartbeat
because the heart is not working. When the blood stops circulating,
the brain is starved of oxygen and the person quickly becomes
unconscious and stops breathing. Without treatment the person will
Causes of cardiac arrest
A cardiac arrest can be caused by:
CPR can be life-saving first aid
- Heart disease – this is the most common cause of cardiac
arrest and is the leading cause of death in Victoria
- Poisonous gases
- Head injury
- Drug overdose
- Electric shock.
Cardiopulmonary resuscitation (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
3–4 minutes for the person to become brain dead, due to lack of
oxygen. By performing CPR, you provide the needed oxygen and
circulate the blood, so that the brain and other organs can stay
alive while you wait for the ambulance. CPR does not guarantee that
the person will survive but it does give that person a chance when
otherwise there would have been none.
CPR – the basic steps
These are the basic steps for performing CPR; they can be used for
adults, children and infants. They are based on guidelines updated
in 2006 to be easier to follow and remember. However, they are only
a guide and not a substitute for attending a CPR course.
CPR is most successful when administered as quickly as possible. It
should only be performed when a person shows no signs of life; that
is, when they are:
The basic steps are:
- Not breathing normally
- Not moving.
1. Check for danger – approach with care and do not put
yourself in danger.
|2. Look for a response –
is the victim conscious? Gently touch and talk to them –
if there is no response, get help.
|3. Dial triple zero (000)
– ask for an ambulance.
|4. Check the airway –
don’t move the person. Tilt their head back, open their
mouth and look inside. If fluid and foreign matter is
present, gently roll them onto their side. Tilt their head
back, open their mouth and remove any foreign matter (for
example, chewing gum, false teeth, vomit).
|5. Check breathing – look,
listen and feel for signs of breathing. If the person is
breathing leave them lying on their side. If they are not
breathing, go to step 6.
|6. Use mouth-to-mouth – if
the person is not breathing normally, make sure they are
lying on their back and:
- Open the airway by tilting the head back and lifting
- Close their nostrils with your finger and thumb.
- Put your mouth over the person’s and blow into their
- Give 2 full breaths to the person (this is called
- Make sure there is no air leak and the chest is rising
and falling. If their chest does not rise and fall,
check that you’re pinching their nostrils tightly and
sealing your mouth to theirs. If still no luck, check
their airway again for any obstruction.
|7. Cardiac compressions –
start chest compressions:
- Place the heel of one hand on the lower half of the
- Place the other hand on top of the first hand and
interlock your fingers.
- Press down firmly and smoothly (compressing to 1/3 of
chest depth) 30 times.
- Administer 2 breaths.
- The ratio of 30 chest compressions followed by 2
breaths is the same, whether CPR is being performed
alone or with the assistance of a second person.
- Aim for a compression rate of 100 per minute.
Maintain CPR – continue, repeating the cycle of 30
compressions then 2 breaths. Keep going until professional