First Aid Training - The Effectiveness of CPR

The Effectiveness of CPR


Used alone, CPR will result in few complete recoveries, and those who do survive often develop serious complications. Estimates vary, but many organizations stress that CPR does not "bring anyone back," it simply preserves the body for defibrillation and advanced life support.

However, in the case of "non-shockable" rhythms such as Pulseless Electrical Activity (PEA), defibrillation is not indicated, and the importance of CPR rises. On average, only 5–10% of people who receive CPR survive.

The purpose of CPR is not to "start" the heart, but rather to circulate oxygenated blood, and keep the brain alive until advanced care (especially defibrillation) can be initiated. As many of these patients may have a pulse that is impalpable by the layperson rescuer, the current consensus is to perform CPR on a patient who is not breathing.

Studies have shown that immediate CPR followed by defibrillation within 3–5 minutes of sudden VF cardiac arrest improves survival. In cities such as Seattle where CPR training is widespread and defibrillation by EMS personnel follows quickly, the survival rate is about 30 percent. In cities such as New York, without those advantages, the survival rate is only 1–2 percent.

Compression-only CPR is less effective in children than in adults, as cardiac arrest in children is more likely to have a non-cardiac cause. In a 2010 prospective study of cardiac arrest in children (age 1–17), for arrests with a non-cardiac cause, provision by bystanders of conventional CPR with rescue breathing yielded a favorable neurological outcome at one month more often than did compression-only CPR. For arrests with a cardiac cause in this cohort, there was no difference between the two technique.

For more information on our Paediatric First Aid training courses visit the courses section of our website. Active First Aid training deliver 2 day Paediatric First Aid (linkable) training courses across the UK.

UK First Aid at Work Training Courses