How are chest compressions administered during cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR)?

Updated: Sep 15, 2020
  • Author: Catharine A Bon, MD; Chief Editor: Kirsten A Bechtel, MD  more...
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The provider should do the following:

  • Place the heel of one hand on the patient’s sternum and the other hand on top of the first, fingers interlaced

  • Extend the elbows and the provider leans directly over the patient (see the image below)

  • Press down, compressing the chest at least 2 in

  • Release the chest and allow it to recoil completely

  • The compression depth for adults should be at least 2 inches (instead of up to 2 inches, as in the past)

  • The compression rate should be at least 100/min

  • The key phrase for chest compression is, “Push hard and fast”

  • Untrained bystanders should perform chest compression–only CPR (COCPR)

  • After 30 compressions, 2 breaths are given; however, an intubated patient should receive continuous compressions while ventilations are given 8-10 times per minute

  • This entire process is repeated until a pulse returns or the patient is transferred to definitive care

  • To prevent provider fatigue or injury, new providers should intervene every 2-3 minutes (ie, providers should swap out, giving the chest compressor a rest while another rescuer continues CPR

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