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CPR Training and You

Should you bother to be trained in CPR (cardiopulmonary resuscitation)?

Every year, about 220,000 cardiac arrests occur – when the heart stops beating. About 92 percent of people who have a cardiac arrest die before they reach the hospital – but having someone who knows CPR nearby doubles or even triples their chances of surviving. Unfortunately, fewer than one in three people who have a heart attack outside of a hospital setting get CPR on the spot. If you know CPR, you could make the difference between life and death for a stranger or someone in your family.

Although many people are reluctant to learn or perform CPR because they fear giving mouth-to-mouth resuscitation, current recommendations from the American Heart Association (AHA) now state that starting chest compressions is the best way to begin saving a life. This is in contrast to previous recommendations that emphasized mouth-to-mouth. The AHA recommends about 100 chest compressions a minute – or about the pace of keeping the beat to the Bee Gees' song "Stayin' Alive."

And in case you think CPR is only a concern for older people, consider this: About 6,000 children and young adults have heart attacks every year. At the same time, studies show that kids as young as 9 years old can learn to perform CPR.

Be part of history

CPR dates back to the 1700s. In 1740, mouth-to-mouth resuscitation was officially recommended for drowning victims. In the following century, chest compressions were recognized as an effective response to heart attack. It wasn't until 1966 that the method of CPR used today in America was standardized and accepted.

Where to get CPR training

CPR training takes part or all of just one day, depending on the classes involved in the training session you select. You can get the training at many places, including:

  • Online through the AHA

  • Classes in your community, which you can find through the AHA, your local hospitals, and the American Red Cross

When to take a refresher course

Current AHA recommendations are to renew CPR training every two years. But studies show that most people retain their CPR skills for just about a year. At that point, unless you use CPR often, you should go through another class to keep your skills fresh.