CPR for an Adult
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CPR for an Adult

CPR for an Adult

By United Medical Education

Please view our terms and conditions before proceeding.

This article has CPR for an adult presented in an essay format. For abbreviated bullet point instructions please build a free account on our account page and login to find our free course study material.


Here you will learn a series of techniques that can be used to assess and treat individuals in respiratory and cardiac distress. When performing CPR there are four common steps in an algorithm used for treatment. These steps are divided into circulation, airway, breathing, and defibrillation (CABD). Certain steps change depending on circumstances. We will cover the techniques for each of the common scenarios.

Here is a scenario where you find an adult lying on the ground.


First, assess the responsiveness of the adult by speaking and attempting to stimulate the adult. If the adult is unresponsive and you are alone, call 911 and bring an Automated external defibrillator (AED) to the adult. If the adult is unresponsive and there is someone else near, have the other person call 911 and bring an AED. Quickly place the adult on a hard flat surface. Next, you should begin CABD, starting with the circulation portion or the algorithm.Circulation:

Check the adult for a carotid pulse for 5 to 10 seconds.


Check the adult for a carotid pulse for 5 to 10 seconds.
If the adult has a pulse move to the airway and breathing portions of the algorithm. If the adult does not have a pulse begin 5 cycles of CPR. A cycle of CPR includes 30 chest compressions followed by 2 rescue breaths. Five cycles of CPR lasts approximately two minutes. Start by performing chest compressions. Chest compressions should be done at a rate of 100 compressions every minute. When performing chest compressions place both of your palms, one over the other, and place them midline on the lower one third of the adult’s sternum. Using both arms, press to one third the depth of the adult’s chest in a rapid pumping motion. Press hard and fast allowing for full chest recoil as you repeat the same motion. There should be minimal interruptions to your chest compressions. If there is another provider helping you, switch roles between giving chest compressions and rescue breaths after every 5 cycles of CPR.


It is important that the adult has an open airway for when he attempts to breathe himself or if rescue breaths are required. To open the airway there are two commonly used methods. One is a head tilt chin lift maneuver and the other is the jaw thrust maneuver. If the collapse of the adult was witnessed and there is no reason to suspect a cervical spine injury, the head tilt chin lift maneuver may be used. If the collapse of the adult was unwitnessed, if trauma occurred, or if drowning occurred the jaw thrust maneuver should be used.

To perform the head tilt chin lift maneuver place one hand on the adult’s forehead and apply firm backward pressure using your palm, tilting the adult’s head backward. Then place the fingers of your other hand under the mental protuberance of the adult’s chin and gently draw the jaw cephalic and the chin forward.

To perform the jaw thrust maneuver place your fingers or thumbs on the lower portion of the ramus of the jaw. Apply anterior pressure to advance the adult’s jaw forward.

Blind finger sweeps are no longer recommended to provide a patent airway.



Check the adult for normal breathing. This would include chest rise, hearing the adult breathe, or feeling for air as the adult breathes. If the adult is adequately breathing continue to assess and maintain a patent airway. If the adult is not breathing or if the breathing is inadequate give the adult two rescue breaths. To perform rescue breaths gently pinch the adult’s nose closed. Then place your mouth over the mouth of the adult to make a seal. Each rescue breath should last one second. Breathe slowly and watch for chest rise as you perform rescue breaths. Allow time for the air to expel from the adult after each rescue breath before performing another rescue breath. Rescue breaths without an advanced airway combined with chest compressions will be performed around 6 times a minute. If the adult has an advanced airway or only rescue breaths are required provide 8-10 rescue breaths per minute.


Application and use of the AED should take first priority when treating an unresponsive collapsed adult without a pulse. Early defibrillation is the most important treatment for survival in cardiac arrest. When the AED arrives turn it on immediately and follow its audible prompts. Secure the shock pads to the adult’s skin as indicated by the AED’s instructions. Allow the AED to analyze the heart rhythm of the adult. The AED will then decide if the adult has a shockable rhythm or not. If the rhythm is not shockable resume five cycles of CPR and then recheck the rhythm. If the adult has a shockable rhythm assure no one is touching the adult or has mutual contact with a good conductor of electricity by saying “Clear, I’m clear, you’re clear!” After assuring no one is in contact with the adult deliver a shock. After delivering a shock initiate five cycles of CPR.

Being familiar with the techniques of the Primary CABD survey is important when emergencies occur and should be well studied and practiced from several sources prior to an event. As you research CPR for the adult practice with other experienced providers. We hope this information has been helpful. Please refer to United Medical Education at aclscertificationonline.org for your certification and recertification needs.

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