CPR Process

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In 2010, the American Heart Association made a radical change to the recommended CPR process for
victims of cardiac arrest[1] after studies showed that compression-only CPR (no mouth-to-mouth
breathing) is as effective as the traditional approach. Here’s how to perform both methods of CPR on an
adult.
Steps
 1 Image:Do CPR on an Adult Step 1.jpg
Check the scene for immediate danger. Make sure you’re not putting yourself in harm’s way by
administering CPR to someone unconscious. Is there a fire? Is the person lying on a roadway? Do
whatever is necessary to move yourself and the other person to safety.
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www.ProCPR.org If there is anything that could endanger you or the victim, see if there is something you
can do to counteract it. Open a window, turn off the stove, or put out the fire if possible.
 However, if there is nothing you can do to counteract the danger, move the victim. The best way to
move the victim is by placing a blanket or coat underneath their back and dragging it.
2

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Assess the victim’s consciousness. Gently tap his or her shoulder and ask “Are you OK?” in a loud, clear
voice. If he or she responds, CPR is not required. Instead, undertake basic first aid and take measures to
prevent or treat shock[1], and assess whether you need to contact emergency services.
 
If the victim does not respond, continue with the following steps.
 3

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Send for help. The more people available for this step, the better. However, it can be done alone.
Send someone to call for emergency medical services (EMS). 
  
 
 
Give the dispatcher your location, and notify him or her that you’re going to perform CPR. If you’re
alone, get off the phone and start compressions after that. If you have someone else with you, have him
or her stay on the line while you do CPR on the victim.
4

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Do not check for a pulse. If you’re not a trained medical professional, odds are you’ll spend too much
valuable time looking for a pulse when you should be doing compressions.[2]
 
5

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Check for breathing. Put your ear close to the victim’s nose and mouth, and listen for slight breathing. If
the victim is coughing or breathing normally, do not perform CPR. Doing so could cause the heart to stop
beating. [3]
 
 
 6

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Place the victim on his or her back. Make sure he or she is lying as flat as possible – this will prevent
injury while you’re doing chest compressions.
 
 
7

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Place the heel of one hand on the victim’s breastbone, exactly between the nipples.
 
8

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Place your second hand on top of the first hand, palm-down.
 
 
 9

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Position your body directly over your hands, so that your arms are straight and somewhat rigid.
 
10

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Perform 30 chest compressions. Press down with both hands directly over the breastbone to perform a
compression, which helps the heart beat. Chest compressions are more critical for correcting abnormal
heart rhythms (ventricular fibrillation or pulseless ventricular tachycardia).
 
You should press down by about 2 inches (5 cm).[4]
 Do the compressions in a relatively fast rhythm. Some agencies recommend doing compressions to the
beat of the chorus of “Stayin’ Alive,” a 1970s disco hit, or at roughly 103 beats per minute. (You can
listen to it here.)
 
 
 11

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Minimize pauses in chest compression that occur when changing providers or preparing for a shock.[1]
Attempt to limit interruptions to less than 10 seconds. [4]
 
12

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Make sure the airway is open. Place your hand on the victim’s forehead and two fingers on their chin
and tilt the head back to open the airway.
 
If you suspect a neck injury, pull the jaw forward rather than lifting the chin. If jaw thrust fails to open
the airway, do a careful head tilt and chin lift.
 If there are no signs of life, place a breathing barrier (if available) over the victim’s mouth.
 
 
 13

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Give two rescue breaths (optional). The American Heart Association no longer considers rescue breaths
necessary for CPR, as the chest compressions are more important. You can give them if you choose to,
though.
 
Keeping the airway open, take the fingers that were on the forehead and pinch the victim’s nose closed.
Make a seal with your mouth over the victim’s mouth and breathe out for about one second. Make sure
you breathe slowly, as this will make sure the air goes in the lungs and not the stomach.
 If the breath goes in, you should see the chest slightly rise and also feel it go in. Give a second rescue
breath.
 If the breath does not go in, re-position the head and try again. If it does not go in again, the victim may
be choking. Do abdominal thrusts (the Heimlich manuever) to remove the obstruction.
14

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Repeat the cycle of 30 chest compressions. If you’re also doing rescue breaths, keep doing a cycle of 30
chest compressions and 2 rescue breaths. 

15
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You should do CPR for 2 minutes (5 cycles of compressions to breaths) before checking for signs of life. 15
Continue CPR until someone takes over for you, emergency personnel arrive, you are too exhausted to
continue, an AED is available for immediate use, or signs of life return.
 
16

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Use an AED (automated external defibrillator). If an AED is available in the immediate area, use it as
soon as possible to jump-start the victim’s heart. [5]
 
Make sure there are no puddles or standing water in the immediate area.
 Turn on the AED. It should have voice prompts that tell you what to do.
 Fully expose the victim’s chest. Remove any metal necklaces or underwire bras.
 Check for any body piercings, or evidence that the victim has a pacemaker or implantable cardioverter
defibrillator (should be indicated by a medical bracelet).
 Make sure the chest is absolutely dry. Note that if the person has a lot of chest hair, you may need to
shave it. Some AED kits come with razors for this purpose.
 Attach the sticky pads with electrodes to the victim’s chest. Follow the instructions on the AED for
placement. Move the pads at least 1 inch (2.5 cm) away from any metal piercings or implanted devices.
  Make sure no one is touching the person.
 Press analyze on the AED machine. If a shock is needed, the machine will notify you.
 If you do shock the victim, make sure no one is touching him or her.
 Remove the electrode pads and resume CPR for another 5 cycles before using the AED again.

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