CPR – What does it really mean?

medical decisions

CPR – Cardio Pulmonary Resuscitation: shocking the heart back to life

What it doesn’t mean:

If you’ve only seen CPR – Cardio Pulmonary Resuscitation – on TV: ER, Scrubs, Grey’s Anatomy or any other medical show on television, that’s not how it happens in real life. 

The ‘success’ of CPR depends on how you define success, and age and overall health CPR in the hospital or as done when an  Emergency Response Team (Firefighters or Paramedics ) arrive should not be confused with what’s learned for babysitting courses, or the AED (defibrillators)  devices that many places have on site – which have saved many a fully functioning life that would otherwise be cut short.

What it does mean:

CPR is an assault on the body: like getting seriously punched in the chest repeatedly for 10, 15, 45 minutes, as the heart is electric-shocked into starting again.


  • Recovery from the recovery: broken or badly bruised ribs makes it hard to get up and about.
  • Bed rest and thinner skin = risk of bedsores and fluid in the lungs. Both require treatment, on top of the treatment already in play.
  • The brain is robbed of oxygen until the heart is started – meaning there may be brain damage in the process.
  • A decision ‘aid’ can help put CPR into proper perspective

CPR Decision Aid

  • “CPR doesn’t work very often, and it works slightly less often on those beyond 70 and considerably less often at more advanced ages.
  • Since older people are much more likely to have other diseases and health problems — and since merely getting discharged from the hospital doesn’t tell us much about what your subsequent life is like (can you speak? walk? remember?) or where you live it or for how long — I think CPR raises a dilemma for older adults.”The older you get,  the less likely long-term survival after CPR  

A geriatrician’s perpspective, on any life-prolonging intervention:

If you think of the body as a car: if the engine’s the only problem: get it fixed. But if the rest of the car’s falling apart, even if you get the engine up and running, there’ll likely be something else needs fixing,Dr Michael Gordon, Geriatrician Baycrest Geriatric Centre


Interesting readings:Insights from a man dedicated to our hearts

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