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.
American Heart Association
American Red Cross
Public Health Agency 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.
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Bush CM, Jones JS, et al. Pediatric injuries from cardiopulmonary resuscitation. Ann Emerg Med. 1996;28(1):40-44.
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Heartsaver First Aid with CPR and AED. American Heart Association website. Available at: http://www.heart.org/HEARTORG/CPRAndECC/CorporateTraining/HeartsaverCourses/Heartsaver-CPR-AED-Online-Part-1_UCM_303283_Article.jsp. Accessed November 20, 2012.
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.
Part 5: Adult basic life support: 2010 American Heart Association guidelines for cardiopulmonary resuscitation and emergency cardiovascular care. Circulation. 2010;122(18 Suppl 3):S685-S705.
Topjian AA, Berg RA, et al. Pediatric cardiopulmonary resuscitation: advances in science, techniques, and outcomes. Pediatrics. 2008;122(5):1086-1098.
Last reviewed December 2014 by Marcin Chwistek, MD
Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.