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CPR Basics

In honor of World Heart Day, we are going to cover the very basics of CPR so that you will have the steps to perform should the need arise. We absolutely recommend going through the process of getting CPR certified if you want a complete training course. There are many options for getting CPR certified ranging from in-person training centers to online courses.

When performing CPR, the most important thing to remember is that every second matters and the biggest risk is not doing something! There is more potential harm by not doing anything when someone collapses or is unconscious and not breathing. You may have fears of lawsuits, hurting the victim, and uncertainty of performing it correctly. Here are a few things to know:

  • There are Good Samaritan laws to protect people who step in to provide lifesaving care.

  • Patients whose hearts have stopped are already clinically dead, so any attempt at CPR you make will only help.

  • The emphasis on performing CPR is not just the number of repetitions. If the numbers are forgotten, remember to push hard and push fast.

  • Never enter an unsafe scene. Rescuers are no use to patients if they become patients themselves.

Health Conditions

While the need to perform CPR can be caused by a number of reasons and situations, there are a couple health conditions that you need to be aware of that are more likely to lead to heart attack and stroke. Cardiovascular disease often leads to heart attack and stroke. The best way to prevent cardiovascular disease is with proper nutrition, consistent physical activity, weight management, stress management, eating proper fats and oils, and not smoking.

Heart Disease

This is the #1 cause of death in the U.S. with over 650,000 people dying from cardiovascular disease each year. Heart disease occurs when the arteries to the heart become clogged. Symptoms of a heart attack include chest discomfort like pressure, tightness (may radiate to the jaw and arms), nausea, sweating, shortness of breath, denial, and feelings of weakness.


This is the #3 cause of death in the US. A stroke happens when the brain is deprived of oxygen and tissue starts to die. There are two kinds of strokes: ischemic- a blood clot that obstructs blood flow to the brain; and hemorrhagic- a ruptured blood vessel that prevents blood flow to the brain. Symptoms of a stroke can include numbness or weakness of the face/arm/leg, confusion, trouble speaking or understanding, trouble seeing in one or both eyes, trouble walking, dizziness, or loss of balance, severe headache with no known cause. FAST is an acronym that helps in assessing a stroke:

F- Facial droop

A- Arm drift

S- Speech

T- Time

Steps to CPR

  1. Tap and Shout. Is there any response?

  2. Look for normal breathing. If they are not breathing or are breathing with "agonal breaths," when breathing is abnormal or it appears the person is gasping for air, you need to perform CPR.

  3. Call 911

  4. Chest Compressions- If the victim is unconscious with no normal breathing, begin chest compressions- 30 compressions at a rate of 100-120 compressions per minute for ALL ages. (For adults- place the heel of your dominant hand on the center of the chest. The second hand should be placed on top. Compress down hard and fast. For children- hand placement should be the same. For very small children, you may use just 1 hand. For infants- place 2 fingers on the center of the chest.)

  5. Airway- Use the head tilt chin lift technique to open the airway. Check for any foreign objects and remove if able.

  6. Breathing- Give 2 rescue breaths lasting 1 second each after 30 compressions. Watch for chest rise and fall.

  7. Continue 30 compressions and 2 breaths until victim shows signs of life or until medical professionals arrive.


AEDs are designed to shock the heart, in order to restart the heart under a normal rhythm. The AED will analyze the heart's rhythm, states whether a shock is advised and then powers up. The operator then pushes a button that will deliver the shock. These devices can increase survival rates to more than 50% if performed early enough.


Many people think they will never need to use CPR. However, research shows that more than 70% of heart attacks happen in a home or private residence. Learning CPR can save a person's life and is something that everyone should know how to do. Taking a CPR course is helpful as it will help you know how to respond in an emergency situation. In honor of World Heart Day today, make it a priority to sign up for a class!

Source: National Health and Safety Association


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