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Top 10 CPR Myths


CPR can be a life saving skill that anyone can learn. However, over the last 7 years of working as a paramedic inside hospital emergency rooms and “on the street”, as well as teaching CPR to both medical and non-medical people, I have heard many different “myths” surrounding CPR. The problem with these myths is that they can prevent someone from taking a CPR class or using the life saving skills they have learned when an emergency occurs. In an effort to increase the number of people who learn CPR we have compiled this list.

10. “To relieve choking in a child you should lift the child up by the feet and shake”. What? Definitely not. I’ve heard this one twice this week during infant CPR classes for new parents. This is a great example of why you should take an American Heart Association CPR class. You will learn not only how to do CPR but also the proper way to relieve choking.
9. “Someone else will be able to help”. The key to surviving cardiac arrest is the quick response of someone trained in CPR. A patient who collapses and does not immediately receive CPR has almost no chance of survival.
8. “You can learn CPR on-line”. While it is true that you can learn the steps of CPR from an on-line class it is absolutely ridiculous to think you could properly perform CPR on a real person after taking a computer based CPR class. Think about it like this; when you were sitting in driving class being taught how to handle a car on wet pavement was it anything like the first time you actually were driving on the highway in the rain??? Hands on practice is the key to developing muscle memory and proper technique. If you are looking for a CPR class make sure it includes hands-on practice and is approved by the AHA or Red Cross.
7. “CPR does more harm than good”. I am not sure where this one started but it is absolutely false. When you are performing CPR it is on someone who has no heartbeat. I hate to state the obvious here but, if someone has no heart beat it means they are DEAD. How can doing CPR possibly make being dead worse? It is true that you may possibly break some ribs while performing CPR but I know that if my heart stopped beating I would much rather wake up with broken ribs than not wake up at all.
6. “Too expensive” or “Too long”. CPR classes are very inexpensive when you consider the peace of mind they bring and the life changing effect a little knowledge can have. New parents spend 20 or 30 dollars on new baby outfits all the time. Many infant CPR classes, which cover CPR as well as choking, cost the same amount. CPR class times can run between 2- 6 hours. The information and skills learned can last a lifetime.
5. “CPR is only for Adults”. It is true cardiac arrest is very uncommon in children and kids. However, infant and child CPR classes also cover how to relieve choking and a good instructor can provide extremely helpful information on accident prevention.
4. “I already know CPR”. The American Heart Association is constantly researching and reviewing the best way to provide CPR. Every few years the guidelines change and it is always best to learn the most current guidelines. The American Heart Association recommends renewing your CPR certification every 2 years.
3. “I will never have to do CPR”. The chances that you will ever have to perform CPR are very small. However, choking is much more common an emergency and all AHA CPR classes also teach how to save someone who is choking.
2. “I could get sued”. All states now have some form of what is commonly called The Good Samaritan Law. These laws protect you, a Good Samaritan, from being sued, if in the course of trying to save someone, you cause injury.
1. “CPR always works”. Unfortunately this is not true and is a very common belief that has been perpetuated by T.V and movies. The actual adult survival rate from out-of-hospital cardiac arrest is about 5-10%. Survival rates increase if there is an AED present and if it is able to deliver a shock. However, if your heart stops and no one starts CPR then your chance of survival is zero.

As you can see there is a lot of bad information out there regarding how, when, and why people should be performing CPR. The real issue with all these “myths” is that they could possibly stop someone from learning CPR or providing CPR to a victim of cardiac arrest. It is the belief of The Heart Center that everyone should take a CPR class and get involved in the safety of their family, friends, and community.

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