Three Things You May Not Know About CPR

Updated: Jul 27, 2021

People who have cardiac arrests may benefit from CPR, yet many people who witness cardiac arrest do not perform CPR. Learn about CPR so you can be prepared.




What is CPR, and when should I use it?


Cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) is an emergency procedure that can help save a person’s life if their breathing or heart stops.


When a person’s heart stops beating, they are in cardiac arrest. During cardiac arrest, the heart cannot pump blood to the rest of the body, including the brain and lungs.


Death can happen in minutes without treatment.1 CPR uses chest compressions to mimic how the heart pumps. These compressions help keep blood flowing throughout the body.


Cardiac arrest is not the same as a heart attack. A heart attack happens when blood flow to the heart is blocked. A person having a heart attack is still talking and breathing. This person does not need CPR—but they do need to get to the hospital right away. Heart attack increases the risk for going into cardiac arrest.


Learn some surprising facts about CPR, cardiac arrest, and how you can be prepared to help save a life.


1. CPR Saves Lives.


Currently, about 9 in 10 people who have cardiac arrest outside the hospital die.2 But CPR can help improve those odds. If it is performed in the first few minutes of cardiac arrest, CPR can double or triple a person’s chance of survival.


Certain people, including people in low-income, Black, and Hispanic neighborhoods, are less likely to receive CPR from bystanders than people in high-income white neighborhoods.


Women may also be less likely to receive CPR if they experience cardiac arrest in a public place.


2. Cardiac Arrests Often Happen at Home.


About 350,000 cardiac arrests happen outside of hospitals each year—and about 7 in 10 of those happen at home.3 Unfortunately, about half of the people who experience cardiac arrests at home don’t get the help they need from bystanders before an ambulance arrives.