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CPR: What You Need to Know


CPR and Infectious Disease
A woman performs chest compressions on a mannequin while learning CPR on the steps of San Francisco City Hall. Just having any training in CPR, even if it's hands-only-training, will help improve her odds of saving someone's life if an emergency arises.
A woman performs chest compressions on a mannequin while learning CPR on the steps of San Francisco City Hall. Just having any training in CPR, even if it's hands-only-training, will help improve her odds of saving someone's life if an emergency arises.
Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

It's clear that CPR is an effective part of the emergency response to cardiac arrest and other emergencies -- one that could potentially save thousands of lives a year. Yet, in most cases, victims aren't getting this lifesaving treatment, even when bystanders are familiar with CPR.

Why won't people perform CPR on strangers? It turns out that most people are afraid of doing it incorrectly or inadvertently harming the victim further [source: Sayre, et. al]. Some people, however, may even fear they'll contract an infectious disease, if they perform CPR on a stranger. Even though there have been no documented cases of anyone catching a serious disease from performing CPR, the new recommendation of hands-only resuscitation offers an alternative that should help assuage any fears a person may have about the practice.

As we discussed, hands-only CPR focuses only on chest compressions. The mouth-to-mouth and mouth-to-nose components are left out. If you still have concerns about coming into contact with a bodily fluid like blood when performing CPR, you should keep a pair of latex gloves in your first aid kit.

Continue reading for more links to information on CPR and first aid.