Cardiopulmonary resuscitation, abbreviated as CPR, is an emergency procedure followed when a person suffers from any of these conditions - cardiac arrest, respiratory arrest and heart attack. Cardiac arrest refers to cessation of blood circulation due to failure of the heart muscles to contract normally. Respiratory arrest relates to or coincides with cardiac arrest, as the condition of arrested blood circulation stops supply of oxygen to the body parts. It is a life-threatening condition, which can result in brain damage in a few minutes and death within 10 minutes. Heart attack, as we all know, occurs when the heart receives insufficient blood supply.
The Steps for Performing CPR
The main objectives of conventional cardiopulmonary resuscitation are restoring normal blood circulation and breathing of an unconscious person, and avoiding brain damage. Generally performed by qualified medical practitioners, a layman can also carry out the same in emergency cases. Before, this medical process involved clearing of the airway, mouth-to-mouth rescue breathing and finally, chest compression. However, the American Heart Association (AHA) makes changes in the previous CPR technique in 2010, after giving due importance to chest compressions.
According to the latest update, chest compressions are given first, followed by clearing of the airways and rescue breathing. Before administering CPR, allow the person to lie on his/her back, and try to wake him/her up. Check whether the person is conscious or unconscious. A simple way is to check pulse in the wrist or neck. If it is confirmed that he/she is in unconscious state, then you can proceed with CPR steps. But, do not forget to call emergency medical services (EMS). The recommended cardiopulmonary resuscitation guidelines for children and adults are different from each other. Let's see the basic steps concerning how to perform CPR in adults.
Step # 1: Give Chest Compressions
Start with chest compressions in order to restore blood circulation of the person. For this, kneel at the side of the person and place the heel of your hand in the middle of the chest (exactly between the nipples). Then, put your other hand on the top of the first hand with the fingers interlacing each other. Make sure your elbows are straight and the shoulders are directly above the hand.
Hoping that you have positioned your hands perfectly, gently compress the chest of the victim to about 5 cm (or 2 inches). While giving chest compression, push hard and fast at a rate of about 2 per second. Repeat the compression for 30 times, allowing the chest to come to its original position in between two pushes. The ideal rate for chest compression is 50 per 30 seconds. Thus, doing for 30 times will take around 18 seconds.
Step # 2: Clear the Airway
The second step in performing CPR is to open the airway of the person. To achieve this, put your palm on the forehead and carefully tilt the head back. Gently lift the chin forward with your other hand, and try to feel the person's breath in your ears and cheek. Also, look if there is any chest movement. This method of tilting head and lifting chin is an easy approach to open up the airways.
Step # 3: Give Rescue Breaths
If the person is not breathing properly, pinch the nostrils and seal his/her mouth with yours. Now, you can give a mouth-to-mouth breathing for 1 second. This rescue breathing step should be done gently, just to ensure that air makes its way to the lungs directly and not to the stomach. Check for any rise of the chest; if yes, let the chest fall and give a second rescue breath.
Step # 4: Again Airway and Breathing
In case, if the chest doesn't rise after giving the first rescue breath, you should repeat the step of clearing the airway (head-tilt, chin-rise) position and do mouth-to-mouth breathing again. If the mouth is injured, one can give mouth-to-nose breathing too. Or a better alternative is to keep a mouth barrier (if available) and continue giving two rescue breaths. This is the completion of the first cycle.
Step # 5: Repeat the CPR Cycle
You can start with the second cycle again. Proceed with chest compressions in the same manner as stated in step 1. After this, open airway and provide 2 rescue breaths successively. Try repeating the steps of 30 compressions for five times and two rescue breathings. This whole process will take approximately 2 minutes. Now, check if the person starts breathing or not. In case the person is still not breathing, repeat the procedure all over again until help arrives.
The above steps to performing CPR can be remembered as CAB in shortcut form, i.e. Circulation restoring by chest compression, Airway clearing and Breathing for the patient. Knowing these simple first aid steps of CPR can certainly save people in case of a cardiac or respiratory arrest. As for performing CPR in children, only one hand is employed for doing chest compressions. Though the basic instructions of compression and rescue breathing remain the same, consider learning accurate tips for administering cardiopulmonary resuscitation in kids.
To conclude with, if you are not trained enough or are not confident to do conventional cardiopulmonary resuscitation, administer hands-only CPR, which means giving uninterrupted chest compressions at a speed of 50 pushes per 30 seconds. It is stated that chest compressions are more important than rescue breaths, especially for patients with cardiac arrest complications. Hence, perform CPR without rescue breaths instead of doing nothing for the patient.