Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation (CPR) is a crucial life-saving technique that helps to restore the blood circulation and breathing of an individual whose heart has stopped beating. Proper CPR duration is essential to be effective, as the chance of successful resuscitation diminishes with time. Thus, it is an important skill for anyone who may be called upon to provide emergency medical care.
Lately, there has been much debate over the optimal amount of time to perform Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation and whether or not the longer duration of CPR can increase the survival rate of hospital cardiac. Yet, this is an essential factor associated with the outcomes of an out-of-hospital cardiac. How long is CPR performed? How long should it be done? Does the amount of time CPR is performed have any bearing on achieving spontaneous circulation or survival rates?
According to the American Heart Association, Of the more than 300,000 cardiac arrests that occur annually in the United States, the success rate is typically lower than 10% for out-of-hospital cardiac and lower than 20% for in-hospital cardiac. Bystander CPR initiated within minutes of the onset of arrest has increased the victim’s chances of survival. It has also been demonstrated that out-of-hospital cardiac arrests in public areas are more likely to be associated with initial ventricular fibrillation or pulseless ventricular tachycardia and have better survival rates.
What should be the appropriate duration of CPR?
The duration of Resuscitation efforts was independently associated with the achievement of ROSC [odds ratio 1.18; 95% confidence interval (CI) 1.01–1.37, P = 0.04]. Emergency medical services professionals may give five cycles of CPR before attempting defibrillation to treat out‐of‐hospital cardiopulmonary arrest or pulseless ventricular tachycardia.
There are no clear-cut guidelines regarding how long CPR should be continued. The original thinking behind CPR suggested that prolonged CPR often resulted in permanent brain damage, and even if the cardiac arrest patient survived, they faced life-altering neurological issues.
On the contrary, a new study suggests that those who received continued CPR and achieved spontaneous circulation managed as well as those who were resuscitated quickly. The study suggests CPR can keep blood circulating for up to 30 minutes without brain damage. For every minute without CPR, survival from witnessed ventricular fibrillation cardiac arrest decreases by 7–10%.
What is the appropriate duration of CPR for an elderly person experiencing a heart attack?
The appropriate duration of CPR for an elderly person experiencing a heart attack is the same as for any other person. The American Heart Association (AHA) recommends that CPR should be performed until advanced medical care arrives or the person shows signs of returning to consciousness. According to the AHA, CPR consists of cycles of 30 chest compressions and two rescue breaths and should be continued without interruption until the arrival of medical personnel or the person shows signs of responsiveness.
It is worth noting that elderly people may have a higher risk of heart attack and therefore may benefit from prompt and effective CPR. The AHA also recommends that CPR should be performed as soon as possible after the onset of cardiac arrest to improve the chances of survival.
Why is Time Critical with CPR?
Time is of the essence in BLS algorithm because for every minute that passes, the chances of surviving drop by 10%. After just four minutes, brain damage begins to occur. After ten minutes, it is unlikely they can be saved.
The most favorable neurological outcomes are achieved when CPR is performed immediately, and the average CPR time is 21-25 minutes. After that, the effectiveness of Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation may decline, and alternative methods such as ECPR should be considered.
What is the recommended duration for performing CPR on an infant?
According to the American Heart Association, the recommended duration for performing CPR on an infant is at least 2 minutes or 5 cycles of 30 compressions to 2 breaths. However, if the infant shows signs of life, such as breathing or movement, the rescuer should stop CPR and seek medical assistance immediately. It is important to note that CPR for infants differs from adults or children, and rescuers should receive proper training in infant CPR techniques.
Should the duration of CPR be adjusted based on the victim's underlying medical condition or history?
Yes, the duration of CPR may need to be adjusted based on the victim's underlying medical condition or history. For example, if the victim has a pre-existing medical condition that affects their heart or breathing, they may require longer or more aggressive CPR than a person without such a condition. Additionally, the victim's age, overall health status, and the cause of the cardiac arrest may also impact the duration of CPR.
It is important to note that the duration of CPR should be determined by a trained medical professional and may vary based on individual circumstances. In general, CPR should be continued until the victim shows signs of recovery, such as breathing on their own, until advanced medical support arrives, or until the rescuer is physically unable to continue.
Is there a specific time limit for performing CPR on a drowning victim?
There is no specific time limit for performing CPR on a drowning victim. CPR should be initiated immediately after a drowning event and continued until advanced medical help arrives or the victim regains a pulse and breathing. In fact, early and sustained CPR is critical for improving the chances of survival for drowning victims. According to the American Heart Association, CPR should be initiated immediately for cardiac arrest victims, including drowning ones.
How long can you do CPR before brain damage?
The appropriate CPR duration depends on the situation and the patient's condition. Generally, it is recommended to perform CPR for at least two minutes before assessing the patient's response. If there is no response after two minutes, then CPR should be continued until medical help arrives or until the patient regains consciousness. In some cases, such as with terminally ill patients, it may not be necessary to continue CPR for more than a few minutes.
Benefits of Longer Duration CPR
- Studies have shown that the longer CPR is performed, the higher the chances of survival and achieving spontaneous circulation.
- Longer duration CPR can help to reduce brain damage and improve neurological outcomes.
- It can give medical professionals more time to assess the patient’s condition and determine if alternative treatments, such as ECPR, should be considered.
- Longer CPR duration can help reduce the risk of post-resuscitation complications such as cardiac arrest.
How long is too long for CPR?
It is important to note that there is no definitive answer regarding how long CPR should be performed. The duration of CPR should be based on the patient's condition and response to treatment. Generally, it is recommended to perform CPR for at least two minutes before assessing the patient's response. If there is no response after two minutes, then CPR should be continued until medical help arrives or until the patient regains consciousness. In some cases, such as with terminally ill patients, it may not be necessary to continue CPR for more than a few minutes.
Out of hospital Cardiac Arrest and CPR Duration Data
Out-of-hospital cardiac arrest is a significant public health problem. The CPR duration required to achieve a ROSC in >99% of out-of-hospital cardiac patients with a 1-month favorable neurological outcome was 45 min, considering both pre- and in-hospital settings.
A recent survey funded by the American Heart Association, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, and the National Institutes of Health and published in The Lancet considered 64,339 cases of CPR at 435 U.S. hospitals between the years 2000-2008 and found that 48.5% of patients attained “spontaneous circulation” following out of hospital cardiopulmonary arrest. In addition, 15.4% of cases survived to discharge. The average duration of CPR during which patients survived was 12 minutes, and CPR was stopped after an average of 20 minutes for patients that expired. The mean duration varied by the hospital and was significantly different, ranging from 16 to 25 minutes.
According to the observational study results, data suggests that doctors may stop too soon and that prolonged CPR may prove beneficial. And it need not be significantly longer, suggesting that an additional 9 minutes of CPR could result in a 12% higher survival rate without negatively affecting neurological functioning.
The lead author, cardiologist Dr. Brahmajee Nallamothu, is hoping the results of this study will lead to new discussions regarding optimal CPR duration. Medical professionals must take a fresh look at CPR guidelines considering the staggering number of hospital cardiac, between 1 and 5 out of every 100,000. In some cases, however, Nallamothu suggests that the additional period of time doing CPR may give doctors much-needed time to assess the situation and use other interventions. However, he cautions doctors from prolonging CPR when it is inappropriate for cardiac arrest patients, especially those terminally ill.
Additional research, observational studies, and clinical trials are still needed to determine the optimal duration of CPR. However, this data gives medical professionals an excellent opportunity to assess where their hospitals lie on the length spectrum.
If you are interested in learning basic life saving skills such as CPR, American Heart Association training centers and various training providers like USCPR online provide online training in CPR/AED, First Aid, Basic Life Support, as well as CPR and BLS renewal. We strictly follow the American Heart Association guidelines for Emergency Cardiovascular Care in all of our training courses. You can also take unlimited CPR practice test (20 questions) and check out our CPR review before taking the official certification exam.
- American Heart Association. (2021). Drowning resuscitation. Retrieved from https://cpr.heart.org/-/media/cpr-files/drowning-resuscitation-ucm_504869.pdf
- American Heart Association. (2021). CPR in Adults. Retrieved from https://www.heart.org/en/health-topics/cardiac-arrest/about-cardiac-arrest/cpr-in-adults
- American Heart Association. (2020). CPR & ECC Guidelines. Retrieved from https://cpr.heart.org/en/resuscitation-science/cpr-and-ecc-guidelines