What is the chest compression technique for cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR)?

Updated: Sep 15, 2020
  • Author: Catharine A Bon, MD; Chief Editor: Kirsten A Bechtel, MD  more...
  • Print


The heel of one hand is placed on the patient’s sternum, and the other hand is placed on top of the first, fingers interlaced. The elbows are extended and the provider leans directly over the patient (see the image below). The provider presses down, compressing the chest at least 2 in. The chest is released and allowed to recoil completely (see the video below).

Delivery of chest compressions. Note the overlappi Delivery of chest compressions. Note the overlapping hands placed on the center of the sternum, with the rescuer's arms extended. Chest compressions are to be delivered at a rate of at least 100 compressions per minute.
CPR compressions. Video courtesy of Daniel Herzberg, 2008.

With the hands kept in place, the compressions are repeated 30 times at a rate of 100/min. The key thing to keep in mind when doing chest compressions during CPR is to push fast and hard. Care should be taken to not lean on the patient between compressions, as this prevents chest recoil and worsens blood flow.

After 30 compressions, 2 breaths are given (see Ventilation). Of note, 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.

Did this answer your question?
Additional feedback? (Optional)
Thank you for your feedback!