An emergency technique used when a person’s heart has stopped beating or the person has stopped breathing, or both. The standard procedure involves pumping on the victim’s chest to stimulate the heart and exhaling air into his or her lungs to keep the blood oxygenated. CPR may succeed in keeping the victim alive until emergency personnel can arrive with the proper lifesaving equipment, such as a defibrillator. (A defibrillator is a device used to deliver an electric shock to the heart to get it beating normally again.)
CPR can double a person’s chances of surviving abrupt heart stoppage (also known as sudden cardiac arrest). It generally should be carried out only by individuals trained to perform it. To find out about CPR classes in your area, call the American Heart Association at (877) AHA-4CPR (242-4277) or visit its CPR and Emergency Cardiovascular Care Web page. You can also call your local chapter of the American Red Cross about classes or visit the organization’s national Web site at www.redcross.org.