Cardiopulmonary resuscitation, or CPR, is a rescue method used to treat an individual that has stopped breathing of has no discernable heartbeat. It consists of mouth-to-mouth resuscitation and chest compressions. The purpose of CPR is to keep oxygenated blood flowing to the brain and other vital organs until a normal heartbeat returns. When the heart stops, the lack of oxygenated blood can cause brain damage within a few minutes. Without oxygen, a person may die within 8-10 minutes.
CPR is based on three basic principles, the “ABC’s” of CPR. “ABC” stands for Airway, Breathing, and Circulation, and you must follow the method in that order.
“A”: Airway. The first thing to check is whether the person has an open airway; that is, whether there are no obstructions in the throat or mouth. If the airway is clear, proceed to “B;” if not, you need to open the airway. “B”: Breathing. Next, check to see if the person is breathing. If yes, leave the person in a comfortable position, if not, start mouth-to-mouth (or mouth-to-nose) resuscitation. “C”: Circulation. Then, check if the person has a heartbeat or pulse. If not, begin chest compressions. Do not to start chest compressions without first checking for a heartbeat, and do not assume that because the person is not breathing there is no pulse or heartbeat. If the person is conscious, there is a heartbeat. Continue CPR until the person has a strong pulse and heartbeat (Roppolo, 2009).
CPR, even when performed by amateurs, can save a life; thus, everyone should learn the procedure, and everyone should try to get certified. I have never witnessed the procedure being performed on anyone, except on television, and I hope I never need to perform it myself, but I certainly plan to get certified for CPR.
Roppolo L.P., Wigginton J.G., & Pepe P.E. (2009). Revolving back to
the basics in cardiopulmonary resuscitation. Minerva Anestesiol.75(5), 301-5.
Accessed on 5 June 2012 at: http://www.minervamedica.it/en/journals/minerva-