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Lay Person CPR On Adults


Lay person cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) is an emergency procedure performed by a person who is not a trained healthcare worker. An adult may need CPR because his or her heart stopped beating or he or she stopped breathing. This may be due to an accident, injury, or medical condition, such as a heart attack or stroke. CPR may combine chest compressions with rescue breathing or may be done only with chest compressions. A chest compression means you put pressure on and off the person's chest. Rescue breathing means you give breaths to the person through his or her mouth.


Important things to remember about CPR for adults:

  • Start CPR before you call 911 if you are alone when you find the person. If you are with another person, one person can start CPR and the other can call 911 or go for help.
  • Learn the steps used to give CPR to adults by remembering C-A-B. This stands for chest C ompressions, A irway, and rescue B reathing. Do 30 compressions immediately. Then open the person's airway. Hold the airway open and give 2 rescue breaths. A cycle is 30 chest compressions and 2 rescue breaths.
  • Do chest compressions even if you cannot give rescue breaths. Chest compressions alone make it more likely that the person will live than if you do nothing at all.

What to do if you find a person who is not breathing normally:

  • Make sure the area is safe to enter, and approach the person. Move him or her only if the area is dangerous, such as in a fire. Tap the person's shoulder. Ask loudly, "Are you okay?"
  • Kneel beside him or her. Look to see if his or her head, neck, or back may be hurt. Carefully turn the person onto his or her back while you support his or her head and neck. Keep the person's body straight as you turn him or her.
  • Begin CPR if the person is not breathing or is only gasping. Continue CPR until the person responds, help arrives, or an automated external defibrillator (AED) becomes available.
    AED (Automatic External Defibrillator)
  • Continue CPR for 2 minutes or 5 cycles. Then call 911 , or send someone to call for help. Stay on the telephone with the operator until he or she tells you to hang up.

How to give chest compressions:

Chest compressions press the heart between the spine and sternum (breastbone). This forces blood out of the heart and to the person's brain and body.

  • Kneel beside the person's chest. Put one of your hands on top of the other. Put the heel of your bottom hand where the person's ribs meet in the middle of his or her chest, between the nipples. This area is called the sternum. Point your fingers up, and keep them off the person's chest. Do not lay your fingers on the chest, because you may do compressions in the wrong place. Incorrect hand positioning can break the ribs during compressions.
  • Lock your elbows with your arms straight. Your shoulders should be directly over the center of the person's chest. Look down at your hands.
    Chest Compression on an Adult
  • Press straight down on the sternum at least 2 inches (5 centimeters). Do not push your hands forward when you press down. Go only up and down. The compressions should be constant and equal. This means that it should take the same amount of time to press down as it does to go back up. Allow the chest to relax completely between compressions. This allows blood to come back into the heart before you compress again. Leave your hands on the person's chest in the correct hand position between compressions.
  • Do 30 chest compressions at a rate of at least 100 to 120 every minute (2 per second). Push hard and push fast. Hard, fast compressions are more likely to keep the person's brain and heart alive. Count the compressions out loud to help you do them at a steady, even speed.

How to open the person's airway:

  • Put 1 hand on the person's forehead and press firmly backward to tilt his or her head back. Do not place your hand on the back of his or her neck to tilt his or her head.
  • Lift the person's chin with your other hand. Hold his or her mouth open. Do not press deeply into the soft tissue under the person's chin, because this can close his or her airway.
    Check Responsiveness on an Adult
  • Look into the person's mouth for something that may be blocking his or her airway at the back of his or her throat. If you see something that looks easy to get, carefully scoop it out with your finger.

How to give rescue breaths:

  • Gently pinch the person's nose closed. This stops air from escaping through the nose. Take a deep breath and put your lips around the person's mouth, making an airtight seal.
    Rescue Breaths on an Adult
  • Give 2 breaths (1 second for each breath) into the person's mouth. Do not give large breaths. Do not breathe hard or fast. Take a normal breath for yourself after each breath that you give.
  • The person's chest will rise each time you give a rescue breath if his or her airway is open. You may need to change his or her head position to reopen his or her airway. If you still cannot get air in, the airway may be blocked by food or another object. Look again to see if you find an object you can remove.
  • Do not stop chest compressions for more than 10 seconds to deliver 2 breaths.

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The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.

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