Ask The Experts

Teens don’t often have heart attacks. When would a teenager need CPR?
Teens do get into resuscitation situations like any other age group. Young people drown, take overdoses, choke on food and are involved in car accidents. They also have serious asthma attacks, epileptic seizures, diabetic problems and some do have heart disease, more often problems they were born with, like congenital heart disease. These can all lead to situations where teens would need to Recognize, React and possibly Resuscitate another teen.
Can I break a person’s ribs when I’m doing CPR?
Yes. Even performed properly CPR can break some ribs, especially in older people whose bones are more brittle. Remember though, if a person’s heart has stopped, he or she is basically dead at this point and has little to lose. Broken ribs may slow a person’s recovery, but only slightly. And remember, we ARE talking about recovery. Without CPR, we would not be.
What should I do if a person is having chest pain but doesn’t want me to call 911?
Trust your judgement. If you believe there is a problem – there very often is! If the chest pain continues and if you are seeing some of the 5 Ps of chest pain (pain, pale skin, puffing, pooped, puking), there probably is something wrong. Talk to the person with pain and explain why you are concerned. Talk to others around you who might help the person decide to seek help. But finally, remember that denial is common when people have heart attacks. If you think there is a problem, take charge and insist on getting medical help. Call 911. Recognize and React to avoid having to Resuscitate.
Sometimes a patient in cardiac arrest takes an occasional breath. Do I continue to perform CPR?
Yes! What you are seeing is what doctors call “agonal respirations.” These reflex gasping breaths are not adequate to provide enough oxygen to the person. Don’t be confused. They are not a sign of circulation. Perform CPR.
If a person who has recently had heart surgery collapses, do I perform CPR if they have no signs of circulation?
Yes, you do.Even if the person has sutures, staples, or a zipper in the middle of their chest suggesting recent open heart surgery, if they are not responsive and not breathing (or there is only an occasional gasp of air) they need CPR to give them the best chance of survival.
Can I get in trouble for doing CPR?
Most provinces have passed Acts protecting bystanders who respond to health emergencies. While each province names the act differently, it is most commonly known as the Good Samaritan Act. (Links open in a new window)
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