CPR is a simple process that gives the patient the best odds of survival until emergency assistance arrives. Although the concept of CPR is simple, a few key elements — like CPR hand placement — can mean the difference between a successful and an unsuccessful rescue attempt.
While it may seem like a minor detail, hand placement for the most effective CPR administration varies depending on the victim’s age. And considering Cleveland Clinic’s claims that cardiac arrest is the “largest cause of natural death” in the U.S., it’s always best to be prepared in the face of an emergency.
Here, we explain all you need to know about CPR hand placement for different age groups and why hand placement is so important when performing CPR.
Why Does Hand Placement Matter?
Proper CPR hand placement is vital to increase a person’s chance of survival. If the person performing CPR has their hands in the wrong place, at best, the rescue attempt won’t work, and at worst, it could lead to further damage.
The aim of CPR is to simulate a heartbeat. By using his or her hands, the person giving CPR will be manually pumping blood through the patient’s body. This means oxygen still reaches vital organs like the brain and the lungs. Without oxygen, these organs will begin to shut down within a few minutes.
That said, CPR isn’t as simple as placing your hands on a victim’s chest above their heart. Placement depends on the age of your victim.
What Is the Correct CPR Hand Placement by Age Group?
Correct CPR hand placement depends on whether the patient is an adult, an infant, or a baby, and knowing the right placement is essential for the safety of the victim on whom you’re performing chest compressions.
- For adults: Place the heel of one hand in the center of the chest, with the other hand on top. Interlace your fingers and place them just above the sternum, keeping them and up off the chest. Shoulders should be directly above your hands, and arms should be straight.
- For children: For children from one year old to mid-teens, position both hands in the center of the chest. One or two hands can be used here to give compressions, depending on the size of the child. Alternatively, the one-handed CPR technique involves using the heel of just one hand in the same place on the chest.
- For babies: According to Laerdal, children under one year old don’t require the pressure of two hands. Instead, place two fingers in the center of the chest just below the nipple line. You can also place both thumbs side by side on the center of the baby’s chest and perform compressions this way.
Correct CPR hand placement lowers the patient’s risk of suffering broken ribs and places the most pressure on the heart so the blood can circulate more effectively around the body. As such, it’s always a good idea to know how to perform CPR on all ages.
Does CPR Hand Placement Vary for Men vs. Women?
No. CPR hand placement guidelines are the same for both men and women.
Interestingly, a survey by the American Heart Association reported women as less likely to receive CPR from bystanders. It also found that rescuers are more afraid of harming a female victim, more likely to think a female patient is just “being dramatic,” or more worried about being accused of inappropriate touching or sexual assault.
Whatever the gender of the patient, it’s important to administer CPR as soon as possible to minimize damage to the vital organs.
What Else Do I Need to Know About CPR?
Not only is the hand positioning important when giving CPR. The right amount of pressure, the number of hands or fingers in contact with the body, and giving compressions at the correct speed are all key elements to a successful rescue attempt.
In an emergency, it’s not always easy to know what the best course of action is. Educating yourself on correct CPR hand placement techniques means you’re that much more prepared for a real-world cardiac arrest scenario.
Contact us today to learn more about administering safe and effective CPR and find out how we can expand your workforce’s knowledge of CPR.