CPR stands for cardiopulmonary resuscitation. It is an emergency lifesaving procedure that is done when someone's breathing or heartbeat has stopped. This may happen after an electric shock, heart attack, or drowning.
CPR combines rescue breathing and chest compressions.
- Rescue breathing provides oxygen to the person's lungs.
- Chest compressions keep oxygen-rich blood flowing until the heartbeat and breathing can be restored.
Permanent brain damage or death can occur within minutes if blood flow stops. Therefore, it is very important that blood flow and breathing be continued until trained medical help arrives. Emergency (911) operators can guide you through the process.
American Red Cross. First Aid/CPR/AED Participant's Manual. 2nd ed. Dallas, TX: American Red Cross; 2014.
Berg RA, Hemphill R, Abella BS, et al. Part 5: Adult Basic Life Support: 2010 American Heart Association Guidelines for Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation and Emergency Cardiovascular Care. Circulation. 2010;122(18 Suppl 3):S685-S705. www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20956221.
Berg MD, Schexnayder SM, Chameides L, et al. Part 13: Pediatric Basic Life Support: 2010 American Heart Association Guidelines for Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation and Emergency Cardiovascular Care. Circulation. 2010;122(18 Suppl 3):S862-S875. www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20956229.
Review Date 4/12/2015
Updated by: Jacob L. Heller, MD, MHA, Emergency Medicine, Virginia Mason Medical Center, Seattle, WA. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Isla Ogilvie, PhD, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.