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What does CPR stand for?

We’ve all heard of CPR training. We’re all told it’s vitally important to learn to do CPR. But what does CPR actually stand for?

CPR stands for Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation.

The word “cardio” simply means “relating to the heart”. So when you do a “cardio” workout at the gym you are working your heart very hard.

The word “pulmonary” simply means “pertaining to the lungs”. So anything to do with your lungs or breathing is something of a “pulmonary” nature.

Put the two together and you get “cardiopulmonary” meaning involving both the heart and lungs.

“Resuscitation” of course means to “restore or revive” or to “rise again”. So it’s clear that when you are performing CPR you are working on both the heart and lungs together in order to revive the person.

The heart and lungs are an interconnected system. Your lungs breathe in air full of life-giving oxygen, which is transferred through the lungs into your bloodstream. Your heart then keeps pumping that oxygen-rich blood throughout your body to bring life to your cells, organs, etc

Without the life-giving flow of oxygen-rich blood travelling throughout your body, vital organs start dying almost immediately, especially your brain.

So when you perform CPR the primary thing you are doing is taking over the job of the heart, and to a lesser degree the lungs. When the heart stops beating there is no flow of blood. So when you press down rapidly and repeatedly on a person’s chest, as you do in CPR, you are actually pumping the heart, as well as the lungs.

Each time you press down, some more blood travels around the body, which carries with it some of that life-giving oxygen. Even if the lungs are not fully breathing there is still a residual amount of oxygen in the bloodstream which is enough to prevent vital organs from failing and keeping the person effectively alive, until the ambulance or more advance medical help arrive.

You also do make the lungs breathe in a small amount of air which keeps adding new oxygen to the blood, preventing vital organs from dying.

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