/What is CPR?

What is CPR?

Why Is CPR Important?

Keeping the blood flow active – even partially – extends the opportunity for a successful resuscitation once trained medical staff arrive on site.

Chain of Survival

CPR is a critical step in the AHA’s Chain of Survival. The term Chain of Survival provides a useful metaphor for the elements of the ECC systems concept.

The 5 links in the adult out-of-hospital Chain of Survival are:

  • Recognition of cardiac arrest and activation of the emergency response system (calling 9-1-1 in the US)
  • Early CPR with an emphasis on chest compressions
  • Rapid defibrillation
  • Basic and advanced emergency medical services
  • Advanced life support and post-cardiac arrest care

A strong Chain of Survival can improve chances of survival and recovery for victims of cardiac arrest.

Chain of Survival

About Automated External Defibrillators (AED)

How CPR Is Performed?

There are two commonly known versions of CPR:

  1. For healthcare providers and those trained: conventional CPR using chest compressions and mouth-to-mouth breathing at a ratio of 30:2 compressions-to-breaths. In adult victims of cardiac arrest, it is reasonable for rescuers to perform chest compressions at a rate of 100 to 120/min and to a depth of at least 2 inches (5 cm) for an average adult, while avoiding excessive chest compression depths (greater than 2.4 inches [6 cm]).
  2. For the general public or bystanders who witness an adult suddenly collapse: compression-only CPR, or Hands-Only CPR. Hands-Only CPR is CPR without mouth-to-mouth breaths. It is recommended for use by people who see a teen or adult suddenly collapse in an out-of-hospital setting (such as at home, at work, or in a park).

Hands-Only CPR consists of two easy steps:

2 Steps to Saving a Life with Hands-Only CPR 1. Call 911 2. Push Hard & Fast

1. Call 9-1-1 (or send someone to do that)

2. Push hard and fast in the center of the chest

About High-Quality CPR

High-quality CPR should be performed by anyone – including bystanders. There are five critical components:

  1. Minimize interruptions in chest compressions
  2. Provide compressions of adequate rate and depth
  3. Avoid leaning on the victim between compressions
  4. Ensure proper hand placement
  5. Avoid excessive ventilation

Even Children Can Perform Successful CPR

A recent study tested sixth graders and their capacity to use Hands-Only CPR to save lives. The study found that the majority of children could perform CPR in the correct location and at the appropriate compression rate, making this a viable group to train to help save lives.

In fact, the AHA is dedicated to training the next generation of lifesavers through its CPR in Schools program. We led the charge to make CPR training a high school graduation requirement in 34 states – and counting! Learn more and get resources and training kits designed specifically for schools.

For a visual comparison of Hands-Only CPR vs. Conventional CPR, view the CPR Guide Infographic.

The Gender Difference: Men vs. Women

Heart Attack vs. Cardiac Arrest: The Difference You Should Know

What is Cardiac Arrest? Occurs when the heart malfunctions and stops beating unexpectedly. 

Cardiac Arrest is an "Electrical" problem. A heart attack is a "Circulation" problem.

What is a Heart Attack? Occurs when blood flow to the heart is blocked.

Find A Course

If you are interested in taking a course to learn the lifesaving skills of CPR, first aid, and AED, use the Find A Course Tool to locate a Training Center near you.

Try a Blended Learning Course: Many AHA lifesaving training courses are available online via OnlineAHA and eLearning.Heart.org. Courses that involve only cognitive learning can be completed entirely online. For courses that teach CPR, students must complete an in-person skills practice and testing session with an AHA Instructor after they complete the online portion. The Instructor will evaluate the student’s skills and upon successful completion of both portions of the course, the student will receive a course completion card, valid for two years. See more information on blended learning and eLearning training.