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What are CPR Standards?

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  • Written By: Alexis W.
  • Edited By: C. Wilborn
  • Last Modified Date: 08 December 2016
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CPR standards are the rules or instructions for how to administer cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR). Most countries have national or regional organizations that set CPR standards for certification in that country. In the United States, CPR standards are created and published by the American Heart Association.

As of 2009, US CPR standards call for 100 compressions per minute for adults. Compressions involve pressing on the chest in the area of the heart using a closed fist, pressing down deeply and hard enough for the chest to recoil. The pace of the compressions should be quick. For every 30 compressions, two breaths lasting 1 second each should be administered. If there are two rescuers, the compressions should continue while the second rescuer administers the breaths, at a rate of between eight and ten breaths per minute.

If there are two rescuers and the victim is an infant or child, two breaths should be administered for every 15 compressions, instead of for every 30. A child is defined as a person between the ages of 1 and 12 to 14 years. For infants under the age of 1, a thoracic squeeze should be used, which involves using the thumbs to encircle the chest. Regardless of the age of the victim, the CPR standards state that opening the airway is a priority in administering CPR.

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The specific procedures for administering CPR vary depending on the situation. If a patient suddenly collapses, the standards dictate calling for medical help and then beginning CPR. If a patient requires CPR as a result of drowning, an injury, or a drug overdose, the standards call for either 2 minutes or 5 cycles of CPR prior to calling for medial assistance, in order to provide more immediate aid to the patient.

These CPR standards were released in 2006, updating standards that had been taught as the guidelines for resuscitation since the 1960s, when CPR standards were first published. The reason for the changes was a belief that the traditional CPR standards, involving numerous steps and numerous pauses in between compressions, were too confusing for most people to perform correctly.

The CPR standards are taught in CPR certification courses offered by both the American Heart Association and the Red Cross. Both organizations provide certification for those who take their classes and demonstrate that they understand the CPR standards and can properly and effectively administer CPR. CPR certification is required in many professions within the healthcare industry, and may also be required for lifeguards and other professionals entrusted with the care of others.

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