Hands-only CPR: A lifesaving technique within your reach

The simple version of cardiopulmonary resuscitation — pushing hard and fast on the chest — can double a person's odds of surviving cardiac arrest.

If someone suddenly collapses and stops breathing, the most likely cause is cardiac arrest. An electrical malfunction causes the heart to beat rapidly and chaotically — or to stop beating altogether. But if a bystander immediately begins chest compressions, which mimic the heart's pumping action, blood keeps flowing to the person's brain.

For more than a decade, guidelines have recommended this simpler version of cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR), which does not involve the mouth-to-mouth breathing used in standard CPR.

To continue reading this article, you must login.
  • Research health conditions
  • Check your symptoms
  • Prepare for a doctor's visit or test
  • Find the best treatments and procedures for you
  • Explore options for better nutrition and exercise
Learn more about the many benefits and features of joining Harvard Health Online »