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What Is CPR?

By Rebecca Barnes, Prince William Living Publisher

June is National CPR Month, the perfect time to learn about CPR and why it is important to you. Cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) is a combination of chest compressions and rescue breathing performed on victims having a cardiac event. During cardiac arrest, the heart stops pumping blood. CPR is an emergency procedure to sustain blood flow to the brain and heart, “buying time” until spontaneous circulation returns.

Why Is Learning CPR Important?

According to the American Heart Association (AHA), about 88 percent of cardiac arrests occur at home. Simply put: The life you save with CPR is most likely to be someone you love.

Also, nearly 92 percent of sudden cardiac arrest victims die before they get to the hospital. Statistics show that immediate CPR can more than double a victim’s chance of survival. Therefore, getting assistance immediately is crucial to survival. However, 70 percent of Americans don’t know what to do during a cardiac event, according to the AHA.

Since four out of five cardiac arrests happen at home, it is imperative to take the time to learn CPR. CPR training takes less than an hour, and anyone can learn.

How do people successfully survive cardiac arrest? A strong “Chain of Survival” can improve chances of survival and recovery for victims of heart attack, stroke and other emergencies, according to the AHA.

The “Chain of Survival” are the steps taken in reaction to cardiac arrest:

  1. Recognizing early a cardiac event and activating the emergency response system.
  2. Performing immediate CPR with an emphasis on chest compression.
  3. Providing rapid defibrillation.
  4. Conducting effective advanced life support.
  5. Integrating post-cardiac arrest care.

What Is Hands-Only CPR?

Hands-only CPR is CPR without mouth-to-mouth rescue breaths. Conducting hands-only CPR includes first calling

9-1-1 and pushing hard and fast on the center of the person’s chest (to the beat of “Stayin’ Alive,” the classic disco song).

This is recommended for use on adults who suddenly collapse. Conventional CPR is still advised for infants and children, adult victims who are found unconscious and not breathing normally, and for victims of drowning or collapse due to breathing problems, based on information from the AHA.

For more information or to sign up for individual courses, visit the AHA at www.heart.org/cpr or the American Red Cross at www.redcross.org.

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