CPR stands for cardiopulmonary resuscitation. It is an emergency life-saving 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.
CPR techniques vary slightly depending on the age or size of the person, including different techniques for adults and children who have reached puberty, children 1 year old until the onset of puberty, and infants (babies less than 1 yr of age).
American Heart Association. Highlights of the 2015 American Heart Association guidelines update for CPR and ECC.
Duff JP, Topjian A, Berg MD, et al. 2018 American Heart Association focused update on pediatric advanced life support: an update to the American Heart Association guidelines for cardiopulmonary resuscitation and emergency cardiovascular care. Circulation. 2018;138(23):e731-e739. PMID: 30571264
Morley PT. Cardiopulmonary resuscitation (including defibrillation). In: Bersten AD, Handy JM, eds. Oh's Intensive Care Manual. 8th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2019:chap 21.
Panchal AR, Berg KM, Kudenchuk PJ, et al. 2018 American Heart Association focused update on advanced cardiovascular life support use of antiarrhythmic drugs during and immediately after cardiac arrest: an update to the American Heart Association guidelines for cardiopulmonary resuscitation and emergency cardiovascular care. Circulation. 2018;138(23):e740-e749. PMID: 30571262
Last reviewed on: 1/12/2019
Reviewed by: Jesse Borke, MD, FACEP, FAAEM, Attending Physician at FDR Medical Services/Millard Fillmore Suburban Hospital, Buffalo, NY. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, Brenda Conaway, Editorial Director, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.