The American Heart Association has released new guidelines for helping to resuscitate victims of sudden cardiac arrest

Do you or any of your people know CPR? Has anyone in your organization been trained and certified? If not, maybe CPR training would be a good investment, because you never know when someone on your team, or someone your people encounter in the field, will be stricken with sudden cardiac arrest.

Even if you have been certified, a refresher course may be in order. That’s because the American Heart Association has revised its CPR guidelines as of 2010. The new guidelines are based on international scientific evidence involving hundreds of experts who reviewed thousands of peer-reviewed papers on the subject.


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Knowing the benefits

CPR (cardiopulmonary resuscitation) combines rescue breathing and chest compressions to help victims thought to be in cardiac arrest, in which the heart stops pumping blood. CPR can support a small amount of blood flow to the heart and brain to buy time until the person gets professional care to restore normal heart function. 

How effective is it? While there are no reliable national statistics, a variety of studies show that early CPR has benefits, especially if followed by defibrillation to shock the heart back into a normal rhythm.

The Heart Association says that early CPR and defibrillation within three to five minutes of a person’s collapse, plus early advanced care, can mean greater than 50 percent long-term survival. Early CPR from bystanders is less helpful if emergency medical personnel with a defibrillator arrive later than eight to 12 minutes after collapse.

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The association reports that fewer than one-third of people who suffer cardiac arrest outside a hospital receive CPR from a bystander – yet effective bystander CPR, immediately after cardiac arrest, can double or triple a victim’s chance of survival. The association trains more than 12 million people in CPR each year including health care professionals and members of the general public.


Doing it right

Of course, to be effective, CPR has to be done right. The new Heart Association guidelines include some fairly substantial changes in approach and technique.

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Perhaps most significant is a change in sequence from the traditional A-B-C (airway, breathing, chest compression) to C-A-B (chest compression, airway, breathing) for adults, children and infants.

The association says that while this fundamental change in sequence will require re-education of everyone who has ever learned CPR, the benefits will justify the effort. The thought behind the change is that in the A-B-C sequence, chest compressions are delayed while the responder opens the airway to give mouth-to-mouth breaths.

In the C-A-B sequence, chest compressions are started immediately and 30 compressions are given before mouth-to-mouth breathing is started. This establishes some limited blood flow, and the delay in ventilation is minimal. Among other changes:

The chest compression rate should be at least 100 per minute, rather than approximately 100 per minute.

The chest compression depth for adults should be at least two inches, rather than one-and-a-half to two inches.


Find out all the facts

A note of caution: Please don’t rely on this quick summary for instruction in the latest CPR methods. You can find complete information by visiting and clicking on the “CPR & ECC” tab. In addition, you should get formal training (or consider updating the training you have) before attempting these techniques on anyone.

Having someone on your team certified in CPR can literally be a lifesaver. If your business is not in that position, perhaps now is the time to consider CPR training.

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