How to Restart a Heart: Tips on CPR with The British Heart Foundation

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The Restart a Heart campaign (RSAH) is an annual initiative to improve the low numbers of people surviving out-of-hospital cardiac arrests.


Led by the Resuscitation Council (UK) in partnership with The British Heart Foundation, British Red Cross, St John Ambulance, and Yorkshire Ambulance Service, it aims to raise awareness of cardiac arrests and increase the number of people trained in life saving CPR by organising training events.

St John Ambulance delivering CPR

St John Ambulance delivering CPR

Across the UK, there are more than 30,000 cardiac arrests outside of hospital every year, but the survival rate is less than one in 10.
As the world celebrates Restart a Heart day on Wednesday, October 16, The British Heart Foundation reveals six steps on how to save someone’s life if they are unconscious and not breathing.

Read more: How a Fulwood man who was saved by an off-duty nurse when he collapsed is supporting Restart a Heart Day

Step 1: Shake and shout
Always look out for risks before you start. Check for a response by gently shaking the shoulder and shout for help.

Step 2: Check if the person is breathing normally – for no more than 10 seconds.
If they are making gasping noises this isn’t normal. Open the airway by gently tilting their head back and lifting their chin.

Step 3: Call 999 emergency services
If no one is around to help, put your phone on loudspeaker so your hands are free, the operator can talk you through how to perform CPR if you’re unsure.

Step 4: Give 30 chest compressions
Start compressions as soon as you can. Place the heel of one hand in the centre of their chest. Place the other hand on top of the first. Interlock your fingers.
With straight arms, use the heel of your hand to push the breastbone down firmly and smoothly, so that the chest is pressed down between 5–6 cm, and release.
Do this at a rate of 100 to 120 chest compressions per minute – that’s around 2 per second.

Step 5: Give two rescue breaths
Open the airway - tilt the head back and lift the chin. Pinch the soft part of the person’s nose closed. Take a normal breath, make a seal around their mouth and breathe out steadily.
The person’s chest should rise and fall. Keeping the person’s head back and the chin lifted, take your mouth away, take another normal breath, and give a second rescue breath. The two breaths should take no longer than five seconds.

Step 6: Repeat until an ambulance arrives.
When you call 999, they can tell you if there’s a public access defibrillator nearby.
Don’t be afraid or worried. The defibrillator kit is easy to use with clear instructions. You can’t do any harm using a defibrillator, as it will only deliver a shock if needed. You can find out how a defibrillators work here.

Don’t want to give rescue breaths? Hands-only CPR
The BHF teamed up with professional hard-man Vinnie Jones to teach the nation how to do hands-only CPR – where you push hard and fast on the chest without giving rescue breaths. Hands-only CPR still increases a person’s chance of survival. Doing something is always better than doing nothing.