CPR stands for cardiopulmonary resuscitation. It is an emergency lifesaving procedure that is performed when a person's own breathing or heartbeat have stopped, such as in cases of electric shock, heart attack, or drowning. CPR is a critical part of the ABC's of first response:
- A for airway
- B for breathing
- C for circulation
CPR combines rescue breathing and chest compressions. Rescue breathing provides oxygen to the person's lungs. Chest compressions keep oxygen-rich blood circulating until an effective heartbeat and breathing can be restored.
Permanent brain damage or death can occur within minutes if blood flow stops. Therefore, it is critical that blood flow and breathing be continued until trained medical help arrives.
CPR techniques vary slightly depending on the age or size of the patient.
Hirshon JM. Basic cardiopulmonary resuscitation in adults. In: Tintinalli JE, Kelen GD, Stapczynski JS, Ma OJ, Cline DM, eds. Emergency Medicine: A Comprehensive Study Guide. 6th ed. New York, NY: McGraw-Hill; 2004:chap 12.
Reviewed By: Jacob L. Heller, MD, MHA, Emergency Medicine, Virginia Mason Medical Center, Seattle, Washington, Clinic. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc.