Call us now: 1-844-CPR-CERT (277-2378)

CPR And the Heart


by Dr. Mary Williams, R.N. D.C.

The heart is an amazing organ that works hard to keep people alive and healthy. It is one of the most important organs in the human body because it is responsible for the flow of blood that keeps most every other organ alive and functioning. The heart isn't perfect, however, and cardiac arrest can happen. When this happens to a person, there are ways that other people, even young people, can help. Knowing what to do when someone goes into cardiac arrest can help save the person's life.

What is CPR?

Most kids are familiar with the term "CPR," even if they don't know exactly what it means. It is simply a life-saving procedure that is used to help revive people who are no longer breathing and have no noticeable heartbeat or pulse. CPR stands for "cardiopulmonary resuscitation."

  • CPR: A Real Life-Saver: Read this article on the KidsHealth website to learn all about CPR and what it is. It also talks about when CPR should be used and who should know how to do it.
  • CPR: Click on this link to read a basic definition of what CPR is.
  • The ABCs of CPR: On this page, learn what the definition of CPR is and how to perform it. The procedure is broken down into three easy steps that can be remembered using the letters ABC.

What is Cardiac Arrest?

You might think that a heart attack and sudden cardiac arrest are the same thing, but they are not. A person's heart beats constantly without rest. When it stops, it can cause a person to die because their blood is no longer circulating. This is called cardiac arrest. Cardiac arrest can happen to anybody, even kids and people who do not have problems with their heart.

  • About Cardiac Arrest: This link opens up to a page on the American Heart Association website. The page gives a very simple definition of what cardiac arrest is. You'll also learn why it is different from a heart attack.
  • What is Cardiac Arrest?: Learn what sudden cardiac arrest is on the Travis R. Roy Sudden Cardiac Arrest Fund website. The fund is named after an eighth-grade boy who died from sudden cardiac arrest in 2005. The page also gives facts about sudden cardiac arrest.
  • Heart Disease & Disorders: Sudden Cardiac Arrest: The Heart Rhythm Society page reviews what sudden cardiac arrest is and how dangerous it can be. Read this article to also find out how many people die from it as well.

What to Do When Someone is Experiencing Cardiac Arrest

When some experiences sudden cardiac arrest, it is very frightening for them and just as scary for anyone who is watching it! For kids, you might wonder what you can do to help save a life. First, it is important to act quickly. If there is an adult around who knows CPR, tell them immediately that there is a problem. Have someone call 911 for help, too. Whether you know CPR or not, you should check to see if the person is breathing by shaking them and shouting, "Are you OK?" If the person doesn't answer or they don't have a pulse, start CPR if you know it. If you have not learned CPR yet, you can still help by doing what is called chest compressions. You'll do this by placing the heel of your hand against the center of the person's chest and using your other hand to cover it. Make your arms so that they are nice and straight, and push down using the weight of your upper body. This is what is called chest compressions. Do this 100 times per minute, letting the person's chest rise up all the way from one compression to the next. This sounds like a lot, but do your best. Keep doing this until help comes.

The Heart

The human heart isn't very large - just a bit larger than a fist - but don't let its small size fool you, because it is very strong. It never takes a break from pumping blood, every minute of every hour throughout a person's life. The heart is made up of four chambers: the right atrium and ventricle and the left atrium and ventricle. The two halves are separated by the septum. The right ventricle has thin walls and pumps de-oxygenated blood into the lungs through the pulmonary arteries. The left ventricle's job is to pump oxygenated blood to the whole body via the aorta. Blood is prevented from flowing where it does not belong because of valves. The left ventricle is topped by the mitral valve, which stops the backward flow of blood into the left atrium. It also has the aortic valve, which prevents blood from the aorta from flowing into the left ventricle. On the right ventricle, there is the pulmonary valve, which prevents blood in the pulmonary trunk from flowing into the right ventricle. The tricuspid valve, located along the top of the right ventricle, prevents blood from flowing backward into the right atrium.

More Information

  • The Human Heart: This page offers a brief explanation of the importance of the human heart. Visitors can also find links to educational activities, galleries, and additional informative resources.
  • Kids' Health: Your Heart: Students will find this page to be a very informative resource about the human heart. It includes pictures and also includes a section about heart murmurs.
  • CPR: Child 1 to 8 Years Old: Click here for a slide show on how to do CPR on a child.
  • Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation: This page explains what CPR is and why it is important.
  • Sudden Cardiac Arrest Education and Information: Readers of this PDF will find information about sudden cardiac arrest, what it is, and why it is so dangerous. It also covers statistics about cardiac arrest as well as symptoms and warning signs.