When To Start CPR And When To Stop CPR: Learn The Nuances
When To Start CPR And When To Stop CPR: Learn The Nuances
by admin | September 04, 2022 | CPR | 2 comments

When To Start CPR And When To Stop CPR: Learn The Nuances

It’s never enough to know what CPR (Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation) is or how it is done. Quite often, many small extra doubts occur to people who want to help patients who’ve suffered heart attacks or respiratory failure.

Prime among these doubts is when to start CPR. What signals do you look for to know it’s the right time to begin? And the other doubt is when to stop CPR. When should you hand it over to the experts or give it up?

Apart from this, rescue givers may find themselves wondering about a whole host of CPR-related nuances.

We have collated the top 6 questions most people ask about the finer details of the CPR process. Knowing these answers makes you better equipped to help and more confident.


When to start CPR

According to an article by Paul Martin in ProCPR.org, a website dedicated to CPR training, lay people may be somewhat fearful of judging whether or not CPR is required in an emergency when a patient has collapsed from a heart attack or respiratory failure. It would help if you looked for the following signs:


1. See if the patient has stopped breathing

If the fallen person is not breathing, it’s time to perform CPR immediately to start circulating oxygenated blood through the body. Remember, without blood flow, the heart stops beating, and the brain begins to die. If you start CPR within that critical time frame of 4-8 minutes after a cardiac or pulmonary arrest, there is hope that a person can survive without much brain damage.


2. See if the patient is taking occasional gasping breaths

When someone goes into cardiac arrest, they may continue to breathe for a while. Breathing may not stop, but it may become difficult or sound like short grunts. CPR compressions should be started immediately if the patient is occasionally gasping for breath.


3. Check if the patient’s heart has stopped beating

If you cannot feel a pulse, either at the patient’s wrists or the neck, begin performing CPR without delay. If the heart isn’t pumping, oxygen is not getting to the rest of the body. Your CPR chest compressions can keep blood flowing to the heart and brain until emergency medical teams can arrive, take over, and try other resuscitation methods.


4. Check if the patient is unconscious or unresponsive

Experts recommend that you should begin CPR if the person is unconscious or unresponsive. Don’t wait to know why the person is unconscious or unresponsive. Get to work on the CPR quickly. Perhaps you may wonder if doing CPR is risky when it’s unnecessary. But it is far less risky than not doing CPR when needed.


When to stop CPR

Sharecare.com, the sharing platform of the American Red Cross, suggests four conditions when you can stop CPR. Notice that these do not call on you to use your judgment on whether the patient has survived. That is a doctor’s call to make. There are four situations when you should consider stopping CPR …


1. You see an obvious sign of life, such as breathing

It’s essential to see if the patient’s breathing is steady and a pulse is regularly beating to a steady rhythm before you stop the CPR to wait for medical help. Keep the patient’s airway open by lifting his chin from his throat. Continue to monitor the person’s breathing and pulse for any changes in the person’s condition until emergency medical personnel take over. If the breathing and pulse seem shaky, don’t stop the CPR.


2. A trained medical responder has arrived with an AED

You can give up your CPR efforts if medical help arrives with an AED (an Automated External Defibrillator). This is a sophisticated but easy-to-use medical device. It can analyze the heart’s rhythm, and, if needed, deliver an electrical shock (or defibrillation) to help the heart re-establish an effective rhythm. It calls for trained professionals to use AEDs, which are more effective than just CPR.


3. You are too exhausted to continue giving good CPR

There could be times during CPR when you get physically exhausted to continue, and the quality of the compressions you can give wanes in effectiveness. It’s better in such cases to get another person nearby to provide the CPR with your instructions, and you recover from your fatigue. Get someone else to help till you catch your breath and can begin again.


4. The scene becomes unsafe for you to continue with CPR

Sometimes the scene where the patient has fallen becomes an unsafe place to continue with CPR. This happens when the weather changes to a dangerous level, or the traffic and crowds surrounding the area start swelling. The patient’s fall may sometimes cause a local stampede if the moving crowds are suddenly halted. In such cases, carry the patient as fast as possible to a safe place to continue with the CPR.


6 most-asked queries on the nuances of CPR – and their answers


1. Do you give CPR if there is a pulse but no breathing?

According to 123CPR.com, they advise that if the patient has a pulse but is not breathing adequately, provide ventilation without compressions. Give rescue breathing before you think of compressions.


2. Do you give CPR if someone is breathing?

VeryWellHealth.com, in an article by Rod Brouhard, states that if a heart attack patient seems to be gasping for breath, those gasps can sound like snoring, snorting, or difficult breathing. It’s called “agonal breathing.” Although it sounds scary, it could be a good sign for the victim’s survival if CPR is given immediately.


3. Do patients feel pain during CPR?

According to Sarver Heart Center, Arizona, patients may feel definite discomfort during CPR – like pressure, squeezing, fullness, or even pain. The pain can radiate to other areas of the upper body such as the arms, the back, neck, jaw, or upper stomach.


4. Does CPR break ribs?

FirstSupportCPR.com confirms that approximately 30% of patients receiving CPR may suffer rib fractures or bone breaks. CPR has to apply compressions that are at least 2 inches deep and at the rate of 100 -120 compressions per minute. Ribs may break while performing CPR, but when trying to save a person’s life, a broken rib or two is not what doctors worry about.


5. How long can CPR keep someone alive?

WebMD.com, in an article by Serena Gordon, cites Japanese research that shows that performing CPR for 30 minutes, 45 minutes, and even an hour gives patients the best chance of survival.


6. Does your brain get oxygen during CPR?

Research studies by NYU Langone Health state, “Even when performed under optimal conditions, conventional CPR rarely circulates enough oxygen to the brain.” Yet some oxygen is better than no oxygen. There is not yet a foolproof way to monitor the quality of brain resuscitation during CPR. A lot of research, though, is ongoing in this area.


In summary …

The more you know about the finer details of CPR, the more confident you’ll be when administering it to someone in need. Here’s our clarion call you too can follow: “Be a Zinda Dil. Learn CPR. Save Lives.”




    1. Martin, Paul. ProCPR. “When to Perform CPR – How to Tell if Someone Needs CPR.” Accessed August 20, 2022. https://www.procpr.org/blog/training/when-to-perform-cpr
    2. ShareCare. “When can I stop performing CPR on an adult?.” Accessed August 20, 2022. https://www.sharecare.com/health/first-aid-techniques/when-stop-cpr-on-adult
    3. 123CPR. “CPR.” Accessed August 20, 2022. https://123cpr.com/cpr_pro.php?page=cpr
    4. Brouhard, Rod. Very Well Health. “Should You Perform CPR on Some Who Is Gasping or Unconscious?.” Accessed August 20, 2022. https://www.verywellhealth.com/performing-cpr-on-gasping-victims-first-aid-1298461
    5. Sarver Heart Center. “Frequently Asked Questions about Chest-Compression-Only CPR.” Accessed August 20, 2022. https://heart.arizona.edu/heart-health/learn-cpr/frequently-asked-questions-about-chest-compression-only-cpr
    6. First Support CPR and First Aid Training. “Broken Ribs During CPR.” Accessed August 20, 2022. https://firstsupportcpr.com/2021/05/31/broken-ribs-during-cpr/
    7. Gordon, Serena. WebMD. “Giving CPR for More Than 30 Minutes May Be Worth It.” Accessed August 20, 2022. https://www.webmd.com/heart/news/20131116/giving-cpr-for-more-than-30-minutes-may-be-worth-it#1
    8. NYU Langone Health. “Monitoring the Effectiveness of Brain Resuscitation in Real Time.” Accessed August 20, 2022. https://med.nyu.edu/research/parnia-lab/research-studies/monitoring-the-effectiveness-brain-resuscitation-real-time


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