American Heart Association switches CPR steps under new guidelines

In the past, the steps to administering CPR were 1) clear the victim’s airway, 2) deliver rescue breaths, and 3) start chest compressions. That has changed, however, under the American Heart Association’s new CPR guidelines. Now, chest compressions come first, followed by clearing the airway and giving mouth-to-mouth breathing.

The previous guidelines – last updated in 2005 – delayed getting oxygen-rich blood circulating throughout the body, which is essential in the critical first seconds of cardiac arrest.

“Every second without blood flow is associated with cells dying, so the faster you can start CPR, the faster you get blood flowing and the better you stave off the damage from cardiac arrest,” said Dr. Dana P. Edelson, director of clinical research for the University of Chicago’s Emergency Resuscitation Center and a co-author of the guidelines.

Among other changes to the guidelines, the AHA recommends that rescuers administer at least 100 chest compressions per minute, and push the breastbone down at least 2 inches with each compression - both of which can lead to better outcomes. And for people who may be uncomfortable giving mouth-to-mouth breathing, the new guidelines encourage non-medical professionals to use hands-only CPR.

Educate your employees about the AHA’s new CPR guidelines with our fully updated Lifesaving CPR Poster and Lifesaving Choking Poster.

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