Health & Wellness

Damar Hamlin Was Given CPR After Collapsing: What Is CPR and When Is It Given?

The simple procedure can save someone's life

Buffalo Bills and Cincinnati Bengals players look on as Damar Hamlin #3 of the Buffalo Bills is treated by medical personnel
Kirk Irwin/Getty Images

Buffalo Bills safety Damar Hamlin collapsed during Monday night's game against the Cincinnati Bengals, where he laid down on the field for roughly ten minutes while medical professionals administered CPR.

Hamlin was later taken to the hospital with family members by his side. The Buffalo Bills announced Hamlin collapsed due to cardiac arrest and remains in critical condition.

CPR is administered as an emergency procedure when someone's heart stops beating, known as cardiac arrest. According to the American Heart Association, around 350,000 Americans die from cardiac arrest each year, making it one of the most common causes of death in the United States.

Administering CPR is crucial for a cardiac arrest patient if they are not within an immediate vicinity of a medical facility. Calling 911 and waiting for an ambulance may take a few minutes, if not longer, and so applying immediate CPR can double or triple a person's chance of survival.

Here are some things to know about administering CPR and treating cardiac arrest:

What is the difference between cardiac arrest and a heart attack?

Although a heart attack and cardiac arrest both involve a destabilization of the heart, and they may look similar to a lay person. But they are very different and should be treated differently, according to the American Heart Association.

A heart attack occurs when the blood flow to the heart is blocked, often due to a blockage in a coronary artery. A heart attack is often occurring alongside chest pain. If someone around you appears to be having a heart attack, call 911.

Cardiac arrest when there is a sudden disruption to the electrical malfunction in the heart, which causes the heart to be unable to pump oxygen to the brain, lungs and other parts of the body, A person experiencing sudden cardiac arrest will collapse and not have a pulse.

What is CPR?

CPR stands for Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation and is a procedure that involves applying chest compressions to someone who has gone into cardiac arrest. CPR can also include mouth-to-mouth resuscitation, but that is only recommended to be done by medical professionals and not members of the general public who happen to respond to an emergency situation.

The goal of CPR is to keep a person's blood flow active, which will increase the chance of successful resuscitation once the patient has been placed in the hands of medical professionals.

How is CPR applied?

CPR is applied by using both hands to push down on the chest. It is recommended to perform chest compressions that reach a depth of at least 2 inches, and the compressions should not go past 2.4 inches. The chest compression rate should be about 100 to 120 per minute. If you are conducting mouth-to-mouth resuscitation, the ratio should 30:2 chest compressions to mouth-to-mouth breaths.

How do I learn CPR?

It is immensely helpful to have practiced CPR before performing in a real-life situation. Sometimes, high schools and colleges will teach the procedure in a health course, but if you have not been trained in CPR -- or do not remember how to do it -- it always helpful to take a course offered by organizations like the American Red Cross.

The American Red Cross offers classes and training in CPR. By the end of your training, the American Red Cross will provide you with a CPR certificate, which can be used to prove that you are trained in CPR if you are taking on a job or role that requires it.

The NFL game between the Buffalo Bills and Cincinnati Bengals was postponed Monday night after Bills’ safety Damar Hamlin collapsed on the field following a tackle.

What is an AED?

An AED, or an automated external defibrillator, is a device used to treat sudden cardiac arrest patients. They can be found in many offices and public buildings, and are usually in a glass case with a sign that reads "AED" overhead.

An AED analyzes the heart rhythm and can apply an electrical shock if necessary.

Organizations such as the American Red Cross and the American Heart Association offer courses and training to obtain AED certification as well.

How do I use an AED?

The full step-by-step breakdown of how to use an AED can be found here. But the general method of applying an AED is to apply the pads to someone's bare chest, and then following instructions from the machine. A member of the general public should only use an AED if they have been trained to do so.

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