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Also called: Cardiopulmonary resuscitation
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When someone's blood flow or breathing stops, seconds count. Permanent brain damage or death can happen quickly. If you know how to perform cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR), you could save a life. CPR is an emergency procedure for a person whose heart has stopped (called sudden cardiac arrest) or who is no longer breathing. CPR can maintain the blood flow breathing until emergency medical help arrives.

Take these steps if someone is in sudden cardiac arrest:

  • Call 911.
  • If someone else is around, have them look for an automated external defibrillator (AED). An AED is a device that sends an electric shock to the heart to try to restore its normal rhythm. AEDs are available in many public places such as schools, businesses, and airports .
  • Make sure that the person with sudden cardiac arrest is lying on their back on a firm surface.
  • If you haven't had any CPR training, you can do "hands-only" CPR for a teen or adult whose heart has stopped beating ("hands-only" CPR isn't recommended for children). "Hands-only" CPR uses chest compressions to keep blood circulating. Chest compressions involve pushing hard and fast in the center of the chest.
  • If you've had training, you can use chest compressions, clear the airway, and do rescue breathing. Rescue breathing helps get oxygen to the lungs for a person who has stopped breathing. To keep your skills up, repeat the CPR training every two years.
  • Use the AED as soon as possible, if there is one available.

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The information on this site should not be used as a substitute for professional medical care or advice. Contact a health care provider if you have questions about your health.