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25 Things You Don’t Know About CPR… But Should

25 Things You Don't Know About CPR... But Should

Mackenzie Thompson

by Mackenzie Thompson

Life Saver, NHCPS

posted on Dec 22, 2020, at 11:27 am

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How much do you think you know about cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR)? Here are 25 interesting facts everyone should learn about CPR.

1. Researchers Can Reliably Predict Survival Rate Based On Number Of People CPR Certified in an Area

woman-on-bed-infront-of-laptopStudies have shown that the chances of survival from a cardiac event vary greatly from city to city. Things like how close you are to a hospital or average ambulance time can factor in. But one of the biggest determiners is the number of people in your county, city, area who know CPR.

The more people around you who have CPR training, the more likely one will be around when you need it.

2. Most Bystanders Won’t Attempt CPR Because They’re Afraid

Most people have a basic understanding of CPR, even if they haven’t been formally trained. But even though CPR can save a life, most people will not step in to do CPR. They fear doing it wrong.

CPR training and CPR certification give bystanders the confidence they need to jump into action when someone needs them.

3. Children As Young As 9 Can Effectively Give CPR

To properly give CPR, someone does need to be able to give compressions. Children as young as nine may be strong enough to manage cardiopulmonary resuscitation or support an adult. And some may not.

The more people who know CPR, the better, so if you have a tween or above who wants to learn CPR, this is a great time for them to learn these life-saving skills.

As children grow into their teens, they are in more situations where an adult is not around. So knowing CPR could save a friend’s life at a beach, pool, party, camping trip, hike, or anywhere.

4. Time Is of The Essence

Every minute a person goes without CPR, their chance of making a full recovery goes down around 10%. Waiting for an ambulance to arrive is not a life-saving move when someone’s heart stops. The next thing to know about CPR will further make the case.

5. It Takes an Ambulance Eight Minutes to Arrive

This is certainly not a guarantee. According to Reuters, a city ambulance can arrive within 8 minutes of being dispatched on average. However, before an ambulance can dispatch someone must make a call, wait, and let the responder assess the situation.

That means that the person’s heart will have been stopped for at least 10 minutes on a good day if no one initiated CPR. Since recovery chance goes down 10% every minute, this leaves next a 0% a person survives without bystander CPR.

That’s for city-dwellers. If the person lives in a rural area, the time before help arrives could be 14-30 minutes.

6. People Forget How To Give CPR

Just like learning a language you never use, CPR is a “Use It Or Lose It” skill. The skills you learn in CPR do fade. CPR courses expire every two years to take this into account.

It’s important to update your certificate at that point to refresh CPR skills and to find out if anything has been updated.

7. Good Samaritan Laws Protect Those Giving CPR From Lawsuits

In the US especially, sometimes people don’t step in to help because they’re afraid of being sued. But in most cases, this is an unfounded concern.
This was a big enough problem that all 50 states currently have a Good Samaritan Law on the books in the United States, according to AAFP.org (American Academy of Family Physicians).

8. CPR Helps With More Than Cardiac Arrest

When you take CPR, you also learn how to manage airways, help someone who is choking, or handle a traumatic injury. CPR can save a recently drowned child or a 20-something overdosed on heroin. These are just examples. There are many instances where you may use CPR skills.

Some CPR courses may also include first aid for things like:

  • Chemical exposure
  • Extreme weather exposure
  • Bee stings
  • Anaphylaxis
  • Loss of blood
  • Sanitizing a wound

9. You Cannot Kill Someone By Giving CPR “Wrong”

Some people are worried about giving CPR because they’re afraid they could cause a death that wouldn’t happen otherwise. Even if CPR is given awkwardly by someone untrained, it cannot kill someone or make them worse off than they already are.

10. You Are More Likely To Need To Give CPR To A Loved One Than Stranger

You may think: what are the chances you’d ever need to use CPR? People ask this because they only envision themselves giving cardiopulmonary resuscitation to a stranger when they just happen to be there to save the day.

But the truth is that you’re much more likely to end up giving CPR to someone you know as a parent, child, or friend. It’s great when you can be there to help a stranger. But your loved ones are the people who most often benefit from your learning CPR.

88% of cardiac arrests will occur in someone’s home.

11. Around 22% of People Who Get CPR Out of Hospital Survive to Discharge

This is according to ScienceDaily. It may not sound like much. But it’s more than double the 8.8% that survive without CPR when the heart stops beating outside the hospital.

And the survival rate is slightly better than the 17% to 20% chance that that same person would survive if they’d gone into cardiac arrest in a hospital.

12. CPR Has its Own Playlist

New York-Presbyterian Hospital created this list of catchy tunes that can help you keep a rhythm. Do you know any of these choruses?

  • “Stayin’ Alive” – Bee Gees
  • “I Will Survive” – Gloria Gaynor
  • “MMMBop” – Single Version. Hanson
  • “Gives You Hell” – The All-American Rejects
  • “History of Rap” – Jimmy Fallon, Justin Timberlake
  • “Girls Just Want to Have Fun” – Cyndi Lauper
  • “Crazy in Love” – Beyonce, Jay Z
  • “Dancing Queen” – ABBA
  • “Cecilia” – Simon & Garfunkel
  • “Just Dance” – Lady Gaga, Colby O’Donis
  • “Something Just Like This” – The Chainsmokers, Coldplay
  • “Rumour Has It” – Adele
  • “Sorry” – Justin Bieber
  • “Hard To Handle” – The Black Crowes
  • “Sweet Home Alabama” – Lynyrd Skynyrd
  • “Rock Your Body” – Justin Timberlake
  • “Hips Don’t Lie” – Shakira
  • “Work It” – Missy Elliott
  • “What’s Going On” – Marvin Gaye
  • “Suddenly I See” – KT Tunstall
  • “Rock This Town” – Stray Cats
  • “Fly” – Sugar Ray
  • “Crazy” – Gnarls Barkley
  • “Spirit In the Sky” – Norman Greenbaum
  • “Man in the Mirror” – Michael Jackson
  • “One Week” – Barenaked Ladies
  • “Another Brick in the Wall” – Pink Floyd

Have you learned something new? Share with us on social media.

13. You Can Learn CPR Online

These days, if you want to learn something online instead of an in-person class, you can. You can get industry-approved, Joint Commission Compliant CPR training and certification from the comfort of your home.

14. You Can Do CPR if You’re not Certified

You don’t technically have to be certified to perform CPR. However, certification is affordable, and there are many benefits to choosing certification.

  • CPR Certification looks great on a resume. Most employers want to have several people on staff who know CPR, so they look for this on resumes even if you’re an accountant, teacher, cook, or another profession with nothing to do with saving lives on a typical day. It shows initiative and that you care about others. If all else is equal in a competitive field, this can be the defining factor that gets you in the door.
  • CPR Certification gives you the confidence to perform CPR. To get certified, you must pass a test showing that you’ve retained all the knowledge and can competently use these life-saving skills. That gives you the confidence you need to act quickly and deliberately when someone has an event for which you’re trained.
  • You could save someone you love very much. Because you’re certified, you’re prepared to save someone in your family. If you have people at high-risk of medical emergencies, CPR certification is the greatest gift you can give yourself and others.
  • Work with others to save a life. Those who are CPR certified can work together to help a person. Two heads are better than one. And four hands are better than two when it comes to cardiopulmonary resuscitation.

15. Only 30% of People Will Learn CPR

You’re a special person when you learn CPR. Only about 30% of people take the initiative to complete a course and ensure they’re ready for an emergency.

16. CPR Has Been Around for Hundreds of Years

In 1734, a Scottish surgeon revived a person who died in a coal mining accident using mouth-to-mouth.

In 1740, doctors in Paris first realized that you could give mouth-to-mouth resuscitation to someone who has drowned. And sometimes, it would bring them back.

The bellows method also came into use around this time. A Swiss physician invented it. A bellows is normally used to blow air onto a fire to make it hotter. But they found they could use the device to blow air into someone’s lungs as well.

In 1774, the Society for the Recovery of Persons Apparently Drowned was founded in London to teach people how to save people who had drowned.

In 1775, animal testing proved that a deceased chicken’s heart could be shocked back into rhythm.

In 1856, researchers learned that turning a person on their side can open airways.

In 1891, German researchers used chest compressions to revive patients.
And the discoveries continue for the next hundred years. As science learns more, best practices are established, and a system is developed. This is called CPR.

17. A Heart Attack Is Not the Same as Cardiac Arrest

cpr-compressionsA heart attack is a sudden blockage of blood flow to the heart. People often experience it as pain, numbness, and weakness.

A cardiac arrest is when the heart stops suddenly because the electrical signals in the heart stop “firing”. A heart attack can cause cardiac arrest, but so can many things like drowning, a bad shock, a worsening health condition, suffocation, or a heart defect.

18. Brain Damage Happens Sooner Than You Might Think

If someone doesn’t get the heart started again, brain damage is imminent. Under normal circumstances, the timelines look something like this:

  • Within 0-4 minutes of cardiac arrest, brain damage is not likely
  • 4-6 minutes, the person may have some permanent brain damage
  • 6-10 minutes, the person will probably have some brain damage
  • 10+ minutes, strong chance of severe brain damage. Not likely to survive.

19. Sometimes, CPR Doesn’t Work…You Didn’t Do It Wrong

As the stats we already mentioned show, CPR isn’t fool-proof. It won’t always re-start the heart. It won’t always keep a person alive until the ambulance arrives. It won’t always save the person.

You must realize this upfront so you don’t beat yourself up if someone dies. Losing someone during cardiopulmonary resuscitation doesn’t mean you did it wrong. It just means that CPR didn’t work for that person this time. It’s a sad but true reality.

Survival rates nearly double, so it’s worth trying. But it won’t work sometimes.

20. CPR Is Changing and Getting Better

After that last fact about CPR, we want to reassure you that CPR continues to improve. New best practices are developed and studied by the industry. Then those become the standard for CPR certification courses. So you must stay up-to-date when your certification expires.

21. CPR only Pumps Around 20-30% of a Normal Beat

When doing chest compressions, you’re only pumping around 20-30% of the heart’s normal amount of blood would usually pump out. That’s enough to prevent brain death and organ failure. But it’s not ideal over an extended period. For this reason, someone must get emergency help if a heart stops beating.

22. You Should Not Stop CPR Once You Start

If you’re able to restart the heart with CPR, you may be the only thing keeping that heart beating. So you should continue CPR until emergency personnel asks you to step aside. Don’t stop just because they’ve arrived.
Number 25 below is the exception.

23. You Won’t Always Know the Heart Is Beating

When you begin CPR, you may or may not be able to tell if it’s working. Sometimes the breathing or beat is so faint that you can’t tell, so just keep doing it.

24. You May Break a Bone on an Older Person

If the person getting the CPR is older or has a bone condition, then a bone may break during CPR. It will typically heal. Just keep going.

25. If the Person Starts Moving, You Can Stop

Sometimes CPR is enough to revive a person. Medical professionals should still check them out. But If they start moving their arms and legs, talking, or showing other clear signs of life, you can stop the CPR.

Good Job! You’ve just saved a life.

About Mackenzie

Mackenzie is a lover of world travel, photography, design, style and Chinese cooking. She is passionate about working towards a purpose, recently graduated from Indiana University with a degree in Media and Marketing, and is currently residing in Manhattan.

Contact Mackenzie at mackenzie.thompson@nhcps.com.
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  1. This is very informative, thank you for sharing 🙂

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