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CPR (Cardio-Pulmonary-Resuscitation) is a part of the "cardiac chain of survival" for someone who has stopped breathing and/or whose heart has stopped. CPR combines rescue breathing and chest compressions. It allows oxygen-enriched blood to be circulated throughout the body until more advanced medical care can be provided.
Other parts of the chain include:
- Early recognition of the symptoms and early calling of 911
- Rapid use of an AED (automated external defibrillator)
- Early transport to advanced care.
Signs of a possible heart attack:
- Pain - pressure, squeezing, or tightness
- Location - center of the chest and may radiate outward into the shoulders and other areas of the chest
- Duration - pain will last for several minutes. It may lessen if the person relaxes and calms down
- Shortness of breath, feel lightheaded, faint, cold sweat, nauseated
- Most people will deny they are possibly having a heart attack and attribute it to heartburn or indigestion
Women, the elderly, and diabetics may have more vague symptoms
What to do when someone stops breathing or is having a heart attack:
The American Red Cross teaches these emergency action steps:
- Check the scene first and make sure it is safe for you to enter.
- Always watch out for your safety first! If you have any doubts call 911 (or 616.331.3255 - Public Safety) immediately.
- Look around the scene to find clues about what may have happened. If it is safe, approach the victim and look for such things as: unconsciousness, persistent chest pain or discomfort, not breathing or difficulty breathing, no pulse, severe bleeding.
- Determine the number of victims.
- Use personal barrier protection when encountering blood or other body fluids, or when giving mouth-to-mouth resuscitation. (i.e., gloves, masks, breathing barriers).
- Give them all the information you can and listen for things you can do to help.
- Give your exact location and landmarks (i.e., Building name, room number).
- DO NOT HANG UP until you're told to.
- If you know CPR, use those skills or follow the instructions of the 911 dispatcher. Even if you just stay with the victim and keep them calm, this will be a big help.
- If you don't know First Aid and/or CPR, take a class to prepare yourself to deal with these kinds of emergencies. If you do know these skills, keep them fresh and up-to-date by taking refresher classes every 1-2 years.
Information about CPR & First Aid classes can be found at:
GVSU Campus Wellness Center
American Red Cross - Ottawa County
American Red Cross - Greater Grand Rapids
Note: Information above comes from the American Red Cross and American Heart Association's First Aid and CPR training materials.
Disclaimer: This information is not intended as a substitute for professional medical advice, emergency treatment or formal first-aid training. Don't use this information to diagnose or develop a treatment plan for a health problem or disease without consulting a qualified health care provider. If you're in a life-threatening or emergency medical situation, seek medical assistance immediately by calling 911.)
Page last modified September 14, 2010