We’ve all heard of CPR, seen CPR being administered on a television program and many of us have actually embarked on CPR courses – but do we really understand what CPR is actually doing?
CPR stands for CardioPulmonary Resuscitation and is a first aid technique involving several actions such as pumping the heart and getting oxygen to the brain. The act of CPR combines the motion of applying pressure to the chest to assist the heart in beating and mouth-to-mouth resuscitation.
Whilst the techniques of CPR are important to know, it can also assist us in an emergency if we actually fully understand what our actions are doing. Understanding our first aid techniques can help us in many ways including being able to assess if our techniques are getting good results or intervention is required.
What happens when you are applying compression to the chest:
When you have started chest compression as part of your CPR application, you are manually replacing the heart and doing it’s job in forcing blood out of the heart itself and getting it flowing back through the body. If there is no pulse on a patient this is an indication that the heart is not functioning.
What happens when you administer mouth-to-mouth:
Every living thing needs oxygen and that includes our bloodstream. We administer mouth-to-mouth in CPR because if the blood we are trying to pump through our chest compression is de-oxygenated it will not supply oxygen to the brain. When the brain loses oxygen the brain tissue will start to die and can cause scarring or complete loss of brain function. This process happens extremely quickly which is why there is such a strong emphasis on administering CPR immediately. Oxygen helps the brain function, the brain helps the heart start beating again through the nerve streams.
When someone stops breathing and loses their pulse, there is only a very small window of time (a few minutes) that there is an opportunity to resuscitate them successfully. The body needs oxygen and a beating heart to function which is why both of the techniques in CPR are as important as each. However if these techniques are not administered properly then the likelihood of a successful resuscitation can significantly reduce.