Simply put, the purpose of CPR is to keep oxygen rich blood flowing to the brain and other vital organs if the heart or lungs stop working on their own. The medical term for this is “loss of automatic function.”
The primary function of the heart is to pump blood to the body and the primary function of the lungs is to fill the blood with oxygen. This is what sustains life. So, when either the heart or the lungs stop working on their own, CPR is most likely needed.
When a rescuer pushes down on the chest of victim, she is literally pumping the heart. And when a rescuer is breathing into the mouth of a victim, she is literally providing oxygen. At it’s core, CPR is as simple as that.
Choking relief techniques are designed to manually stimulate a forceful cough. Coughing is the bodies natural way of dispelling an object in the throat or lungs. That’s why we cough when we have phlegm.
If a victim is truly choking on an object, he or she will not be able to naturally cough. For infants, the cough is simulated by giving firm back blows. For adults, the cough is simulated by wrapping the arms around the upper belly and thrusting inward and upward with a fist.
Movies typically miss the point of CPR. It is often used as a plot device to create tension and drama. The hero goes unconscious and a bystander heroically performs a few chest compressions and rescue breaths. In less than 10 seconds, the hero sputters back to life and is ready to go.
Real CPR is nothing like this. In fact, the chances of somebody regaining consciousness or automatic function is slim. More often than not, CPR is nothing more than a stop-gap technique while 911 is on the way.
CPR is messy and extremely tiring. It’s a profoundly physical act that requires a tremendous amount of exertion, especially if the rescuer is giving proper chest compressions. Additionally, the victim will likely not regain consciousness until advanced medical help arrives on the scene.
The basic lifesaving techniques of Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation (CPR) are vital for any caregiver to know.
Remember, the primary function of CPR is to manually do what the heart and the lungs have ceased to do on their own. When performed properly, CPR can help maintain oxygenated blood flow to vital organs –– the most important being the brain.
If an infant or a child has lost consciousness, stopped breathing, or has lost a heartbeat, CPR can be used to keep blood flowing while emergency medical help is on the way. In most cases, medical emergencies that require CPR occur away from immediate advanced medical providers like a hospital or an ambulance.
The bottom line –– when dealing with a life-threatening situation, performing CPR on an infant often yields the best chance of survival.
For infants and children, the situations that most often call for CPR include choking, drowning and heart failure.
Other medical emergencies that may require CPR:
The following section highlights key medical statistics and information as they relate to CPR, pediatrics and cardiology. Click on one of the following regions to begin.