How do you perform CPR?

paramedic performing cpr
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CPR is a way to treat someone when they stop breathing or their heart stops beating.

If a person stops breathing, call your local emergency services or ask someone else to. Before beginning CPR, ask loudly, “Are you OK?” If the person doesn’t respond, CPR begins.

Chest compressions

If you haven’t been trained in rescue breathing, perform chest compressions until medical help arrives. Chest compressions are also known as hands-only CPR.

  1. Lay the person on their back on a firm surface.
  2. Kneel next to their neck and shoulders.
  3. If they’re an adult, place the heel of your hand over the center of their chest. Put your other hand directly over the first one and interlace your fingers. Make sure that your elbows are straight and move your shoulders up above your hands.
  4. If they’re a child, only place one of your hands over the center of their chest.
  5. If they’re an infant, only place two fingers over the center of their chest, a little below their nipple line.
  6. Using your upper body weight, push straight down on their chest at least 1.5 inches for infants and 2 inches for everyone else. Then release the pressure.
  7. Repeat this procedure again for 100 to 120 times per minute. Many popular songsTrusted Source have 100 to 120 beats per minute and can help serve as a guide for how quickly you should be moving.
  8. Continue until help arrives or there are signs of movement.
  9. Once they come to, you can place them on their side.

Rescue breathing

To minimize potential injuries, only those trained in CPR should perform rescue breathing.

If you’re trained in CPR:

  1. Tilt the person’s head back and lift their chin to open up the airway. If the person’s an infant or a child, you may be able to open their airway with just a head tilt.
  2. Pinch the person’s nose closed and cover their mouth with a CPR face mask, creating an airtight seal. If a mask isn’t available, cover their mouth with your own mouth.
  3. Give two 1-second breaths and watch for their chest to rise.
  4. Continue alternating between chest compressions and breaths — 30 compressions and two breaths — until help arrives or there are signs of movement.
  5. Once they come to, you can place them on their side.

How is unconsciousness treated?

If unconsciousness is due to low blood pressure, a doctor will administer medication by injection to increase blood pressure.

If low blood sugar levels are the cause, the unconscious person may need an injection of glucose or something sweet to eat.

Medical staff should treat any injuries that caused the person to become unconscious.

What causes unconsciousness?

Unconsciousness can be brought on by a major illness or injury, or complications from drug use or alcohol misuse.

Common causes of unconsciousness include:

  • a car accident
  • severe blood loss
  • a blow to the chest or head
  • a drug overdose
  • alcohol poisoning

A person may become temporarily unconscious, or faint, when sudden changes occur within the body. Common causes of temporary unconsciousness include:

  • low blood sugar
  • low blood pressure
  • syncope, or the loss of consciousness due to lack of blood flow to the brain
  • neurologic syncope, or the loss of consciousness caused by a seizure, stroke, or transient ischemic attack (TIA)
  • dehydration
  • problems with the heart’s rhythm
  • straining
  • hyperventilating

What are the complications of unconsciousness?

Potential complications of being unconscious for a long period of time include coma and brain damage.

A person who received CPR while unconscious may have broken or fractured ribs from the chest compressions. The doctor will X-ray the chest and treat any fractures or broken ribs before the person leaves the hospital.

Choking can also occur during unconsciousness. Food or liquid may have blocked the airway. This is particularly dangerous and could lead to death if it isn’t remedied.

What’s the outlook?

The outlook will depend on what caused the person to lose consciousness. However, the sooner they receive emergency treatment, the better their outlook will be.

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