Cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) is a lifesaving technique that's useful in many emergencies, such as a heart attack or near drowning, in which someone's breathing or heartbeat has stopped. The American Heart Association recommends starting CPR with hard and fast chest compressions. This hands-only CPR recommendation applies to both untrained bystanders and first responders.

If you're afraid to do CPR or unsure how to perform CPR correctly, know that it's always better to try than to do nothing at all. The difference between doing something and doing nothing could be someone's life.
Here's advice from the American Heart Association:

The above advice applies to situations in which adults, children and infants need CPR, but not newborns (infants up to 4 weeks old).
CPR can keep oxygen-rich blood flowing to the brain and other organs until emergency medical treatment can restore a normal heart rhythm. When the heart stops, your body no longer gets oxygen-rich blood. The lack of oxygen-rich blood can cause brain damage in only a few minutes.
If you are untrained and have immediate access to a phone, call 911 or your local emergency number before beginning CPR. The dispatcher can instruct you in the proper procedures until help arrives. To learn CPR properly, take an accredited first-aid training course, including CPR and how to use an automated external defibrillator (AED).
Before you begin
Before starting CPR, check:

Remember to spell C-A-B

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Chest compressions

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Open the airway

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Rescue breathing

The American Heart Association uses the letters C-A-B to help people remember the order to perform the steps of CPR.

Compressions: Restore blood flow
Compressions means you'll use your hands to push down hard and fast in a specific way on the person's chest. Compressions are the most important step in CPR. Follow these steps for performing CPR compressions:

Airway: Open the airway
If you're trained in CPR and you've performed 30 chest compressions, open the person's airway using the head-tilt, chin-lift maneuver. Put your palm on the person's forehead and gently tilt the head back. Then with the other hand, gently lift the chin forward to open the airway.
Breathing: Breathe for the person
Rescue breathing can be mouth-to-mouth breathing or mouth-to-nose breathing if the mouth is seriously injured or can't be opened. Current recommendations suggest performing rescue breathing using a bag-mask device with a high-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filter.

To perform CPR on a child
The procedure for giving CPR to a child age 1 through puberty is essentially the same as that for an adult — follow the C-A-B steps. The American Heart Association says you should not delay CPR and offers this advice on how to perform CPR on a child:
Compressions: Restore blood flow
If you are alone and didn't see the child collapse, start chest compressions for about two minutes. Then quickly call 911 or your local emergency number and get the AED if one is available.
If you're alone and you did see the child collapse, call 911 or your local emergency number first. Then get the AED, if available, and start CPR. If another person is with you, have that person call for help and get the AED while you start CPR.

Airway: Open the airway
If you're trained in CPR and you've performed 30 chest compressions, open the child's airway using the head-tilt, chin-lift maneuver.

Breathing: Breathe for the child
Follow these steps for mouth-to-mouth breathing for a child.

Continue until the child moves or help arrives.
To perform CPR on a baby 4 weeks old or older
Cardiac arrest in babies is usually due to a lack of oxygen, such as from choking. If you know that the baby has an airway blockage, perform first aid for choking. If you don't know why the baby isn't breathing, perform CPR.
First, evaluate the situation. Touch the baby and watch for a response, such as movement. Don't shake the baby.
If there's no response, call 911 or your local emergency number, then immediately start CPR.
Follow the compressions, airway and breathing (C-A-B) procedure (below) for a baby under age 1 (except newborns, which include babies up to 4 weeks old):
If you saw the baby collapse, get the AED, if one is available, before beginning CPR. If another person is available, have that person call for help immediately and get the AED while you stay with the baby and perform CPR.
Compressions: Restore blood flow

Airway: Open the airway
After 30 compressions, gently tip the head back by lifting the chin with one hand and pushing down on the forehead with the other hand.
Breathing: Breathe for the baby


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