Anyone can save a life with hands-only CPR

August 20, 2018
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  • Learn an easy way to save a life.
  • By responding quickly, you can double or triple a person's chance of surviving a stopped heart.

Recognizing a heart attack might not be as easy as you think. This graphic will help you recognize the symptoms, which can be different for women and men.

And if you’ve ever seen anyone collapse after his or her heart stopped beating, you know how frightening it is.

Bystanders may huddle around the victim, buzzing about what to do, knowing the moment calls for cardiopulmonary resuscitation, or CPR. But many people suddenly thrust into that situation are nervous about their skills, or uneasy with the idea of giving mouth-to-mouth resuscitation.

The good news is that anybody can jump in and start giving hands-only resuscitation, pressing on the chest firmly and rapidly, about 100 times a minute. According to the American Heart Association, immediate CPR can double or even triple a person's chance of survival.

A simple technique

You can learn hands-only CPR in a minute or two. For example, watch the 2:15 video tutorial from the Red Cross. If you absorb these few simple skills and are willing to act, you may just save a life. As the video shows, the technique requires just a few easy steps:

  • If you see someone who’s collapsed, kneel down, tap their shoulder and shout “Are you OK?”
  • Look for signs of breathing.
  • If you see none, call 9-1-1 or ask someone else to do so.
  • Kneel next to the fallen person, put your hands on top of one another, then begin pressing firmly and quickly in the center of their chest. You want to push down at least two inches, allow the chest to rise, then repeat. Your rhythm should be quick — about 100 compressions a minute. To keep the time, you might press to the beat of “Staying Alive,” which is about 100 beats per minute.
  • Keep going until help arrives, whether that’s a person with a defibrillator or a team of paramedics.

While you can quickly grasp how to perform hands-only CPR, practice will help you improve your skills and retain the knowledge. The American Heart Association published a study that concluded more people would survive cardiac arrest if training was better designed and distributed. The association says it hopes to double survival rates from cardiac arrest to 38 percent in-hospital and 15.8 percent for out-of-hospital as well as doubling bystander response to out-of-hospital cardiac arrest to 62 percent by the year 2020.

Resources that can help

Register now to take a health class at Swedish to learn Heartsaver First Aid, CPR and AED. To discuss matters of the heart with a Swedish health care provider, find one near you in our online directory.

See the Red Cross’s written guide to performing hands-only CPR. And watch the video. If you wish, you can search for a Red Cross training session that’s convenient for you.

The American Heart Association offers a similar resource page.

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Signs of early heart failure: When you should visit your doctor
It's a bird...it's a plane...it's your heart?

This information is not intended as a substitute for professional medical care. Always follow your health care professional's instructions.