Breathing is Overrated… Initially!

Although breathing is definitely a vital sign of life, Heart Niagara emphasizes good compressions as the first step in effective CPR. Providing the recommended depth and rate of speed for compressions will produce pressure in the chest cavity, and on the heart directly, which creates blood pressure and circulation.

Once someone has stopped breathing and their heart has stopped pumping, there is still a viable amount of oxygen for about 10 minutes remaining in their lungs, organs, and cells. In this case, the rescuer can immediately work to externally create the needed pressure to circulate that oxygenated blood throughout the victim’s body.

For untrained or unprepared rescuers, chest compressions are perhaps the only care they may be able to provide the victim until EMS arrives on scene. This is referred to as Hands-Only CPR™. However, if the rescuer is aware of the victim’s health history or has a pocket mask (recognized ventilation equipment), the best CPR will follow the latest algorithm of CAB (Compressions, Airway, Breathing). Providing the victim oxygen will continue to keep the brain viable and other vital organs alive.

Want to learn more about the latest changes to CPR and why compressions are so important? Heart Niagara will be running several levels of courses throughout the summer at a discounted rate. You can even organize your own course with friends, family members, or co-workers for a great price and flexibility for date, time, and location. To learn more, visit our CPR courses page, call 905-358-5552, or email

By Anita Fiorentino

Anita is Heart Niagara’s Lead CPR Instructor and has worked for Heart Niagara for over 10 years. Anita regularly teaches community CPR and AED courses as well as youth through the Healthy Heart Schools Program.


(Hands-Only CPR is a registered trademark of the American Heart Association)


Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in blog entries are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Heart Niagara.

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