Changes in CPR Guidelines Fact Sheet

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The American Heart Association (AHA) has revised its life-saving CPR guidelines. Invented in 1960, CPR is a combination of rescue breathing (mouth-to-mouth resuscitation) and chest compressions. CPR is used in victims who may be in cardiac arrest or whose hearts are believed to have stopped pumping blood. CPR helps a small amount of blood flow to the heart and brain for a brief time until the heart restores its normal function.

Before starting CPR

  • Assess if the victim is conscious or unconscious.
  • If the person appears unconscious, tap their shoulder and ask loudly, "Are you okay?"
  •  If there is no response, follow CPR steps.

CPR steps

1. Position the victim flat on his or her back on a firm surface and extend the neck.

2. Open the victim's mouth and airway by lifting the chin up away from the chest and back.

3. Lean forward and listen for breathing sounds from the victim, the feeling of air motion on your cheek
or the rise of fall of the victim's chest.

4. If the victim is not breathing, pinch his or her nostrils closed and breathe into his or her mouth
twice. Give one breath every five seconds, 12 breaths each minute for two minutes. Refill your lungs after each breath. If there is still no response from the victim, dial or have someone nearby dial 911.

5. Begin chest compressions. Place your hands over the lower part of the breastbone, keep your elbows straight and your hands directly below your shoulders. Push down 1.5 to 2 inches, 80 to 100
times per minute. After 30 compressions, blow into the victim's mouth twice. After every four cycles of
30 compressions and two breaths, recheck the victim for signs of breathing. Continue until medical
help arrives.

Changes in the CPR procedure include the following:

  • Double the amount of compressions between rescue breaths from 15 compressions to 30 compressions. For all victims (excluding newborns), after every 30 chest compressions, give two breaths. The old ratio was 15:2.
  •  Open the airway and take five to 10 seconds (but no more than 10 seconds) to check for normal
    breathing in an adult victim.
  • Give five cycles (about two minutes) instead of one minute of CPR for an unresponsive infant or child before calling 911. 
  • Use the head tilt-chin lift, instead of a jaw thrust, to open the unresponsive victim's airway, even if the victim is injured.
  • Take a normal (not deep) breath before giving mouth-to-mouth breathing.
  • Give each rescue breath over a second. Make sure each rescue breath makes the victim's chest rise. If the first breath does not, re-tilt the head and chin before giving the second breath.
  • The AHA also recommends a change in the way automated electronic defibrillators are used from a three-shock sequence to a single shock to restore the heartbeat, followed by CPR. Rhythm checks should be performed every two minutes.


To learn more, take a CPR training course.

For information about classes in your area, please contact the organizations below:

American Heart Association

American Red Cross

American College of Emergency Physicians

Page last updated: 8/10/2015 3:53:23 PM