Nicole Morris — Cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) is a series of steps that provides you with the ability to save the life of your loved one. It is reported that four out of five people experience cardiac arrest outside the hospital and often in their home; so it is highly possible that you may be required to perform CPR and rescue a family member or friend. According to the American Heart Association, less than 92 percent of heart attack victims survive without the application of CPR by a bystander, and less than 32 percent of people know how to perform CPR. Learning the steps to CPR can therefore save the life of your family member. In addition, urge other members of your household to learn how to perform CPR—the life they save may be yours.
Why it is important to educate yourself about CPR?
Accidents frequently occur in the home and it is often a loved one that is charged with saving their life. A person with heart disease may not have a history of a cardiac ailment or show any symptoms until they collapse from sudden death syndrome. If you know CPR, you can have the peace of mind and prevent the feeling helplessness in an emergency. Studies have consistently shown that bystander CPR has a significant improvement in a cardiac arrest victim’s survival rate. Cardiac arrest is also caused frequently in the home by:
- Medication Reactions
- Accidental Poisoning
- Electrocution and Near Drowning
- A Disturbance in Heart Rhythm
- Heat Disease or Stroke
- A Severe Allergic Reaction
How can CPR save a life?
When a cardiac arrest occurs, the heart stops beating and brain death ensues in approximately four to six minutes. Unfortunately, the activation of the emergency medical systems (911) may not arrive within 10 minutes and the victim will not survive. Empowered with CPR, you can supply the body with oxygen and circulate the blood until medical help arrives. In these precious few moments, your life-saving skills may be the only chance your family member has to survive. CPR uses rescue breaths and chest compressions to deliver oxygen to the victim and create the circulation of blood to their brain and body. CPR keeps the victim alive until medical help can arrive and take over.
How is CPR performed?
First determine if the person is unconscious by shaking them gently and asking “are you okay?” If the victim does not respond, call 911 or designate a bystander to call for you. Roll the person on their back and align their arms and legs. Kneel down and position yourself between their head and chest. Initiate the ABCs of CPR immediately.
A is for Airway
In some instances, people faint and their tongue falls back into the throat and occludes the airway. To open their airway, place your hand on their forehead and push back while lifting the chin with the other hand. Inspect the throat for food, vomitus, or any material that may be blocking their breathing. If you can visualize any matter in the throat, carefully remove it without pushing it further down the esophagus. Take 10 seconds to look for the rise and fall of the chest, listen for air movement in the nose and mouth, and feel for the movement of air on your hand or cheek.
B is for Breathing
If the victim isn’t breathing, you must supply them with oxygen. Pinch the victim’s nose with your forefinger and thumb and inhale normally. Place your mouth over theirs to create a good seal and give two rescue breaths. Do not breathe too forcefully into the victim’s lungs. Ensure the rise and fall of the chest, and listen to the sound of air movement with each delivered breath. If the airway is blocked, reposition the victim’s head and attempt to give two breaths again. The next step will provide the circulation of oxygen with the application of chest compressions.
C is for Circulation
While kneeling at their side, place a flat hand on the victim’s breastbone in the center of chest between the nipple line. Place your free hand over the other and entwine your fingers to ensure only your palm is touching the chest wall. Keep your back and arms straight and perform 30 chest compressions at a depth of two to three inches on an adult. After the compressions are completed—deliver two rescue breaths. Continue CPR at the ratio of 30 chest compressions to two breaths, or 30:2. Don’t be afraid to perform chest compressions hard and fast. The ribcage is rigid, and it may be difficult to “pump” the heart with enough force to create circulation. Don’t stop compressions if you think the ribs are injured and continue CPR until help arrives.
CPR performed with two people
If a bystander can help you perform CPR, have them give two rescue breaths while you pause between the chest compression cycles. CPR is exhausting, so it is safe to quickly switch places after 80-100 compressions are completed. Usually, depending on your location, the emergency medical team will arrive within 10-15 minutes.
Learning CPR is essential
Without the intervention of a bystander who knows CPR, cardiac arrest victims have less than an eight percent chance of survival. A much higher percentage of people who suffer fatal heart attacks can be saved if more people would learn how to perform CPR. Anyone can learn the steps of these life-saving skills that may rescue a family member or friend. As accidents and cardiac arrests take place in the home, people can be prepared and not have to face the feelings of helplessness during a medical crisis. Empower yourself and your family, and learn how to perform CPR.
About the Author
Nicole Morris is an editor at CPRCertification101.com and provides information about cpr certification and training online.