CPR stands for cardiopulmonary resuscitation. It is an emergency lifesaving skill that can rescue cardiac arrest victims. Immediate application of CPR and AED (automated external defibrillator) can increase a cardiac arrest casualty’s survival rate by up to 50%.
Early recognition, early CPR and early AED are critical steps in the Chain of Survival that you can help in as a bystander. A strong Chain of Survival can improve chances of survival and recovery for victims of cardiac arrest.
How Does CPR Help?
When sudden cardiac arrest occurs, the heart stops beating unexpectedly or malfunctions and blood flow to the brain, lungs and other organs stops. Cardiac arrest is not to be confused with a heart attack. In the first 4-6 minutes of a sudden cardiac arrest, brain cells start to have irreversible damage due to the lack of oxygen.
Chest compressions, or hands-only cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR), mimics how the heart pumps to get oxygen-rich blood flowing through the body again.
With quality chest compressions of 4-6cm depth and 100-120 times per minute, blood can continue flowing to the victim’s brain and other important organs until medical assistance arrives.
When CPR is performed immediately and correctly, heart function may be restored, preventing permanent brain damage and maintaining blood flow until medical emergency services arrive.
Is rescue breathing needed for effective CPR?
For infants and children who are in cardiac arrest, in addition to chest compression, CPR with mouth-to-mouth and nose ventilation should be performed if bystanders are skilled, willing and able. If they are unable or unwilling to provide rescue breaths, they are encouraged to perform at least good quality chest compressions.
Traditionally, CPR techniques include giving rescue breaths for adults in cardiac arrest. In recent years, high-quality continuous chest compressions without mouth-to-mouth resuscitation have been proven to be more effective in saving a person’s life.
Who can perform CPR?
Anyone can perform hands-only CPR.
Bystanders do not need to be trained medical professionals or have formal CPR training to start performing chest compressions. SCDF’s 995 call dispatchers can also guide you over the phone on the steps to perform chest compressions.
When Should You Use CPR?
CPR should be performed on cardiac arrest casualties.
Bystanders should begin CPR in an emergency situation where the victim is not breathing, or has abnormal breathing and is unconscious.
Always call your local emergency number (995) before starting CPR. Personal safety precautions should also be observed at all times before rendering first aid.
CPR should not be performed on heart attack victims. If you are unsure if the casualty is in cardiac arrest or heart attack, look to the chest for signs of breathing.
How Long Should You Perform CPR?
You should always continue CPR until one of the following occurs:
- An AED is connected to the casualty and prompts you to stop CPR. Start CPR again immediately when you are prompted by the AED.
- An ambulance arrives and trained medical help is ready to take further care of the casualty.
- The casualty regains normal breathing or consciousness. Place the casualty in a recovery position to prevent obstruction to the person’s airway. Monitor them closely as they may stop breathing suddenly.
For infants and children in cardiac arrest, continue giving CPR and two rescue breaths when prompted by the AED.
If you are a single-rescuer and are feeling tired from performing CPR, you may rest for not more than 10 seconds (preferably after 100 compressions).
Is there a difference between CPR for men and women?
The steps to perform CPR does not differ between men and women. Compressions administered should be performed the same way for both genders.
Where Can You Learn More About CPR?
Whether you need CPR and AED training to meet work requirements, attend to medical emergencies, or just want to keep your loved ones safe, we have a course suitable for you.
Singapore Heart Foundation is a leading training centre in Singapore providing affordable and high-quality lifesaving courses accredited by the Singapore Resuscitation and First Aid Council (SRFAC).
You may also learn basic CPR skills through our Virtual Restart A Heart Programme or at CPR Kiosks located at various public locations around Singapore, such as shopping centres, cinemas, hospitals and schools.
Early CPR is a crucial link in the chain of survival as it buys time for emergency cardiovascular care. AEDs also have an important role to play as they can restart a heart and reinstate its normal rhythm. Learn more about AEDs.
With every minute that nothing is done to resuscitate the victim, chances of survival drop by 7 to 10%. Prompt first aid through the application of CPR and AED can vastly improve chances of survival, preventing death and disability. Equip yourself with this lifesaving technique and you can help to save lives.
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