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Take a hands-on approach to saving lives

Saving someone’s life is a rewarding act; it also can be a terrifying one. Too often, we are afraid to try to help someone in sudden cardiac arrest. That’s why the American Heart Association has simplified CPR.

Remember these two steps

The AHA now recommends two simple steps to save a life:  Phone 911 and perform chest compressions.

Studies of real emergencies occurring in homes, at work or in public locations show these two steps can be as effective as conventional cardiopulmonary resuscitation that includes mouth-to-mouth breathing. Providing hands-only CPR can more than double a heart attack victim’s chance of survival.

Your actions can only help

Your actions can only help someone needing emergency medical attention. Adults who suddenly collapse and are not responsive are likely to have cardiac arrest:  their chances of survival are nearly zero unless someone takes immediate action.

Here’s what you should do:

  • Phone 911.
  • Using the heel of both hands, start pressing hard and fast in the center of the chest, with minimal interruptions.
  • Continue until trained medical help arrives.

If sudden cardiac arrest is the cause of the collapse, hands-only CPR is an easy, effective way to more than double the victim’s chance for survival. If an adult has collapsed for reasons other than sudden cardiac arrest, hands-only CPR still could help by causing the person to respond (begin moving or breathing). If the victim responds, you can stop CPR; otherwise, continue chest compressions until additional medical help arrives.

If you know it, do it

If you were trained in conventional CPR (30 compressions to two breaths) and are confident in your abilities to administer it, provide it until medical help arrives and takes over care of the victim.

If you are not confident in your ability to provide conventional CPR, provide Hands-Only CPR until EMS providers arrive.

The American Heart Association still recommends people learn conventional CPR that includes mouth-to-mouth breathing because many medical emergencies need more than hands-only CPR:

  • Adult victims found already unconscious and not breathing normally
  • Victims of drowning or collapse due to breathing problems
  • Unresponsive infants and children

How can I learn more about heart health?

To learn more about the risk factors, symptoms and treatment for heart disease, visit You can take a free, five-minute online heart risk survey and become eligible for reduced-cost cardiac screenings at Baptist Prime Care. You also may phone Baptist Health Line at (270) 575-2918.

Send your questions!

Do you have a cardiac question tugging at your heart? Send it to or mail it to HeartBeat, 2501 Kentucky Ave., Paducah, KY  42003.