According to the American Heart Association, cardiac arrest is the leading cause of death in the United States. During cardiac arrest, when the heart stops beating, it only takes the brain ten minutes to die. Performing cardio-pulmonary resuscitation (CPR) can keep the brain alive longer than ten minutes because CPR helps keep oxygenated blood flowing to the heart and the brain.
CPR is a series of mouth-to-mouth ventilations and chest compressions that are done until medical help takes over. As a mother of three children and a nurse for eighteen years, I think everyone should learn the basics of CPR and what to do if someone is having a heart attack.
There are three simple steps to CPR:
- Call 911. Check the person for unresponsiveness by tilting the victim’s head back. If they are not breathing normally, or are unresponsive, call 911 and get ready to perform CPR on the victim. There is no need to check for a pulse or circulation if a person is not breathing or moving, just start CPR.
- Begin Chest Compressions. If the victim is not moving, coughing, or breathing, begin chest compressions. Place the heel of your hand in the middle of their chest, and place your other hand on top of the first pushing about two inches down in the center of the chest thirty times. Pump hard and fast, about 100 chest compressions per minute.
- Blow. Tilt the victim’s head back and lift their chin. Pinch the nose and cover the victim’s mouth with your mouth and blow two breaths, making sure their chest is rising. Each breath should take about one second. Continue to do thirty chest compressions.
For children between ages one and eight, compress the heel of one of your hands in the same location as the adult. For infants under the age of one, compress two fingers of your hand in the same location as the adult.
Continue to perform thirty chest compressions and two breaths until help arrives.
The most common complication of performing CPR is vomiting. If the victim starts to vomit, turn the victim’s head to the side and wipe off or sweep out the vomit and continue CPR.
Worried about getting infected if you perform CPR? Don’t fret! The American Heart Association says the spread of infection from victim to rescuer is exceedingly rare. There is NO documentation of HIV or AIDS ever being transmitted via CPR.
In order for a person to survive a heart attack outside of the hospital or doctor’s office, certain things have to be done. The first is calling 911. The second is to begin CPR as soon as possible. The third is defibrillation from a public automated external defibrillator, or AED, and the fourth is early advanced life support by an EMT or Paramedic.
Remember, heart attack and stroke are life-and-death emergencies, so every second counts. If you feel you or anyone you see if having a heart attack, call 911 immediately. You just may save a life!
Have you ever performed CPR on someone? Share your stories with us!