What is CPR

CPR or Cardiopulmonary resuscitation is an emergency procedure that can be the difference between a person’s death and survival during a cardiac arrest.

When a person collapses, and the heart stops beating, then they go into a cardiac arrest. The heart cannot pump blood to the entire body during cardiac arrest. Without proper treatment, a person can die within minutes.

CPR uses chest compressions for mimicking the pumping action of the heart. These chest compressions enable the proper blood flow throughout the body.

Hands-only CPR

CPR sans mouth-to-mouth resuscitation, hands-only CPR is recommended to be provided when the person suffers cardiac arrest in an out-of-hospital setting like a park, home, at work. The basic hands-only CPR steps include
  • Calling 9-1-1
  • Pushing hard and quickly (but not too quick) in the center of the chest until trained professionals arrive.

Scientific Backing

Hands-only CPR is not hogwash. A Swedish study analyzed data from over 30,000 out-of-hospital cases of cardiac arrest between 2000 and 2017 when Swedish CPR guidelines were gradually adopting hands-only CPR.

It confirmed that hands-only CPR, like standard CPR, increasing the chances of a person’s surviving for about 30 days after suffering a cardiac arrest.

Steps To Perform in Hands-Only CPR

Annually, around 350,000 individuals suffer cardiac arrest in an out-of-hospital setting. Of these, only 46% survive it as they get immediate help.

If a person suddenly collapses, then shake them and ask loudly, "Are you okay?" If you feel the person is not breathing normally, call 911. Place the phone on speaker mode and listen to the steps that the 911 operator asks you to do. You should:

1. Place the person supine (on the back) on the floor.

2. Kneel beside the patient.

3. Push very hard at the center of the chest. This should be done by placing the heel of a hand on the center and the heel of another hand on top of it and lacing your fingers together.

4. Position your body in such a way that the shoulders are directly over the hands. Keep the arms straight, and start pushing down, using the body weight to compress the chest.

5. Push hard (but not too fast) to compress the chest by approximately two inches.

6. Continue compression at the rate of 120 presses per minute.

7. Continue the hands-only CPR till emergency medical personnel arrive.

If possible, ask for help from bystanders to do the compression for some time, as it can be very exhaustive.

A Crucial Step

While it is true that CPR does not restart the heart, but it is a vital step and helps in the circulation of blood to vital organs during the cardiac arrest till the person’s heart can be revived using AED or automated external defibrillator.

Even though EMTs has these devices with them, bystanders need to get trained on obtaining and using a public-access AED, as chances of survival are highest within the first six to eight minutes of cardiac arrest.

Many public areas like malls, casinos, airports, office buildings, and sports arenas have AEDs. AEDs use light, voice prompts, and text messages for guiding users through the steps.

Overcoming Hurdles

One of the biggest hurdle when it comes to a person surviving the cardiac arrest is the fear of bystanders to help.

Bystanders generally stay away from help as they are afraid of causing any injury to the ribs and contracting any unknown diseases while providing mouth-to-mouth resuscitation.

Hands-only CPR throws out the unknown diseases factor out of the window as no mouth-to-mouth resuscitation is required in this approach.

Secondly, to address the lack of knowledge about providing CPR, the American Red Cross, American Heart Association and other related have started offering classes in CPR and using public-access AED.

The AHA has also simplified the hands-only CPR process to two simple steps - call 911 and push hard and quickly on the center of the chest.