Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation (CPR) – A Must–Know

Published on June 11, 2022

Cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) is a manoeuvre that can save the lives of people suffering from a cardiac arrest. A sudden cardiac arrest is unpredictable and could occur at home, in the office or by the roadside. During the arrest, the heart stops beating and stops the supply of blood to important organs.

CPR – Components

CPR consists of the efforts that make the heart beat again spontaneously. These include chest compression, defibrillation, ventilation and the administration of medicines. However, first and foremost, it is important to contact emergency medical services so that professional help can be available at the earliest.

CPR – Chest Compressions

Chest compressions maintain the blood flow to the vital organs. The process of chest compressions is simple, can be done by anyone with the basic knowledge of the procedure and does not need any equipment. The procedure should be started at the earliest to impact survival. The pauses between the compressions should be minimal, but the chest should be allowed to recoil between the pauses. Prolonged chest compressions can tire out an individual; therefore, another person should take over after around 2 minutes to make sure that the compressions are adequate and effective.

CPR – Defibrillation

During defibrillation, shocks are administered to the heart so that it starts beating normally. Though it is usually done by professionals, the machines are sometimes available in the community and lay persons are trained to use them, thereby saving precious time.

CPR – Ventilation and Medicines

The oxygen content of the blood is maintained through ventilation of the lungs. Adequate ventilation can be provided when trained personnel are available, who also administer medicines to make the heart beat normally.

In most teens and adults, ventilation is not critical since the blood already contains some oxygen. Thus, an untrained lay person should concentrate mainly on chest compressions. However, ventilation is important for certain patients such as young children, pregnant women and victims of drowning, drug overdose, collapse following breathing problems or prolonged cardiac arrest.

CPR – A Survival Tool

CPR saves lives. It improves the blood flow to the brain and prevents brain damage. It should be started immediately to be effective. If the procedure is taught in schools and workplaces, it can increase the number of people aware of what to do in case of sudden cardiac arrests. Families of patients at a high risk of a cardiac arrest should also be trained in CPR.


Ackerman M, Atkins DL and Triedman JK. Sudden Cardiac Death in the Young. Circulation. 2016;133:1006–1026

Cheng A et al. Part 6: Resuscitation Education Science: 2020 American Heart Association Guidelines for Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation and Emergency Cardiovascular Care. Circulation. 2020;142:S551–S579

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