WHAT IS CPR AND WHY DO WE DO IT?

When someone goes into cardiac arrest , they are no longer breathing and their heart is no longer beating (No breathing - no pulse). When we do CPR - we become the respirator-we breath for the victim.  We then compress on the heart - we become the heartbeat of the victim.  We are compressing on the chest to pump the blood out of the heart and into the lungs to pick up the oxygen that we just breathed in and circulate it throughout the body.  Our goal is to get the oxygen to the brain and vital organs which will buy the victim more time. We are maintaining their life until more advanced life support arrives.

BUT IF WE ARE EXHALING CARBON DIOXIDE, HOW ARE WE HELPING THE VICTIM?

The air that we breathe in contains approximately 21% oxygen (at sea level).  We take a breath in and 21% oxygen comes in - but our bodies only use 5 to 6% of that oxygen and the rest is exhaled.  Therefore, if we are exhaling 15 to 16% oxygen that is more than enough to maintain the life of the victim.

HOW MUCH TIME DO WE HAVE AFTER A PERSON GOES INTO CARDIAC ARREST?

There are two different types of death - Clinical death vs. Biological Death. Clinical death begins the minute we stop breathing and our heart stops beating.  If you can get to the victim within the first four minutes that is your best chance of bringing them back without brain damage.  Four to six minutes is a gray area - some people will sustain brain damage and some won't.  After six to ten minutes, Biological death occurs.  That means that brain cells will begin to die.  Brain cells are very sensitive to lack of oxygen.  Once a brain cell is gone - it is gone.  Even if a person is brought back, you may have a brain damaged person. (Is that something you should worry about?  NO - begin CPR immediately because you do not know whether they were out for 1 minute  or 6 minutes and if it were 1 minute you wouldn't want to waste a chance of helping them).  Certain circumstances, such as a cold water drowning, may keep the victim in clinical death longer because the cold may slow the body systems down and less oxygen will be needed by the body.

SO - IF WE ARE DOING CPR FOR 10 MINUTES WE ARE WASTING OUR TIME? 

NO!!!!! The purpose of CPR is to buy the victim more time.  If someone goes into cardiac arrest and we call 911 and immediately begin CPR, even if it takes the ambulance 10 minutes to arrive remember - we have been oxygenating them the whole time.  The brain has not been without oxygen!