The first realisation of those taking a CPR course is that the one you've seen on television is nowhere near what is performed in real life. It would seem obvious, but it's not: you need to apply a lot of force on someone's chest in order to break their ribs and reach the heart.
Experts say CPR is a lifesaver, and with good reason. Each year, more than 350,000 people in the United States — one every 90 seconds — experience cardiac arrest. The vast majority of these do not occur at a hospital, and those who receive CPR from a bystander are up to three times more likely to survive than someone who doesn’t receive such assistance.
But CPR is not without its drawbacks, especially for patients with chronic conditions and terminal illnesses. Patients who receive CPR may sustain not only a number of immediate complications like rib fractures, damaged airways and internal bleeding, but also serious long-term consequences like brain damage resulting from extended oxygen deprivation. Some argue that in patients with very low likelihood of returning to a reasonable quality of life, CPR leads to an unnecessarily prolonged and painful death.
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