More than 720,000 Americans suffer a heart attack each year, 73 percent of whom don’t recognize the symptoms in time to call 911.
In heart attacks that occur at home, CPR is a vital, lifesaving tool. CPR, which stands for cardiopulmonary resuscitation, is the first aid procedure used to restore heartbeats and breathing to those who fall unconscious.
The practice of CPR is not new. It has been around in one form or another for more than 250 years. According to the American Heart Association, as far back as 1740, “The Paris Academy of Sciences officially recommended mouth-to-mouth resuscitation for drowning victims.” Through the years the CPR has been formalized and modified so that people of all levels of experience can recall and follow the steps.
When someone collapses
As with any emergency, the first step is to assess the situation. If there are multiple people able to help, one person should be tasked with contacting 911 immediately. The other person can perform CPR until paramedics arrive.
Since it can be hard to remember information in an emergency situation, there are a few tricks to remind you of the process. To recall the steps of CPR, think C-A-B—compressions, airway, breathing—for the right order. Also, since compressions need to be performed at a certain speed, the American Heart Association has identified the beat of the disco song Staying Alive as close to the speed of the 100 compressions per minute required for CPR.
[Tweet “Think CAB-compressions, airway, breathing.”]
CPR training is common for people who work in the medical field or as caretakers of others, but what about the rest of us? The American Heart Association assures that if you are in a situation where you need to perform CPR, do it. You can only help the situation until paramedics come. In cases where you witness someone collapse, hands only CPR is recommended if you have never been trained in CPR or may have forgotten your training.
NOTE: the American Heart Association does still recommend traditional CPR in some cases, and recommends CPR training every two years.
Compressions and Breathing:
- All infants (up to age 1)
- Children (up to puberty)
- Anyone found already unconscious and not breathing normally
- Any victims of drowning, drug overdose, collapse due to breathing problems, or prolonged cardiac arrest
Hands Only CPR
The purpose of hands only CPR is to maintain chest compressions until a trained medical professional can come to the aid. If an adult or teen has collapsed and is unresponsive, follow these steps to the hands only method of CPR:
Step 1: Call 911 or send someone to call
Step 2: Push hard and fast in the center of the person’s chest until help arrives
[Tweet “Push to the beat of Staying Alive.”]
Position your body over the person’s chest and place the heel of one of your hands in the center of the person’s chest, fingers stretched out. Place your other hand on top of the first and wrap those fingers in between the others. Press down hard and quickly, keeping your arms straight.
People living with heart conditions may find themselves unaware of their surroundings or unable to help themselves in an emergency due to chest pain, shortness of breath or disorientation. Wearing a medical ID engraved with “heart condition” and “on blood thinners” if applicable can help provide safer, more accurate emergency treatment.
Sources: Centers for Disease Control, American Heart Association, Mayo Clinic