How AHA Guidelines Have Changed Your CPR Training Course

Ellen Diamond, (2021, October 22). How AHA Guidelines Have Changed Your CPR Training Course. Psychreg on Wellness. https://www.psychreg.org/aha-guidelines-changed-cpr-training-course/

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Cardiopulmonary resuscitation, otherwise known as CPR, is a life-saving method for emergency situations involving cardiac arrest. Administering CPR in such an event is less difficult than you might imagine, as long as you have received prior training and certification. Anyone can learn the proper technique for resuscitation with an in-person or online CPR training course, even if you don’t have a medical background. 

The guidelines for CPR certification have shifted over the course of the last ten to twelve years. The steps for CPR were recently reorganized, and regulations surrounding who can and cannot receive certification continue to change. There is also a variety of changing regulations and requirements for teaching CPR and certifying individuals. Because these guidelines continue to change, it’s important to update your training regularly. An organisation referred to most commonly as the AHA regulates the procedures and steps for administering CPR and the teaching guidelines for certification coursework.

What is the AHA?

The AHA, which stands for the American Heart Association, is a nonprofit organization dedicated to improving the heart health of American citizens. The organization is nearly a hundred years old and several carries objectives beyond CPR instruction and certification. Unfortunately, cardiovascular disease and stroke are some of the deadliest killers worldwide and affect many millions of lives each year. Volunteers for the American Heart Associate assist with counteracting these impacts of heart disease, help with fundraising for the organisation, and raise awareness for the value of learning cardiopulmonary resuscitation. You can read more about the AHA on their website.   

How the AHA Impacts CPR Methods

Every few years, the AHA releases a detailed update to CPR methods, to ensure that everyone who trains in this technique receives instruction that utilizes the most up-to-date medical knowledge. Because this field of study changes rapidly, the AHA requires recertification for anyone trained in CPR as soon as the regulations change. 

From ABC to CAB

The AHA’s CPR guidelines update in 2010 included a major shift in the overall method for performing CPR. In the past, the A-B-C method was a learning device that helped anyone studying CPR remember the three major steps for initiating and administering resuscitation. 

  • A – Airway. Opening the affected person’s airway to allow the lungs to take in oxygen is the traditional first step of CPR. Tilting the head back slightly is also a part of this step.
  • B – Breathing. Offering rescue breaths through the mouth is designed to push oxygen directly through the victim’s airway in an attempt to restart normal breathing and internal regulation. Under the pre-2010 guidelines, the instructions were to administer these rescue breaths before moving on to chest compressions. Under the current system, this order is reversed.
  • C – Compressions. Arguably the most vital part of administering CPR is the chest compression phase. Compressions are made in rapid succession are designed to keep blood moving through the victim’s vital organs. Many CPR training courses, particularly those for younger children, utilise a hands-only CPR method that is significantly easier to administer and time correctly. The most recent update to the correct number of chest compressions was in 2015. 

Under the AHA’s 2010 guidelines, the order steps for effective CPR have shifted from A-B-C to C-A-B. The acronym still refers to the same individual components of resuscitation, but the order changed in order to prioritize compressions, which is often the most vital for saving lives. Before beginning the C-A-B method, it’s still important to call 911 or direct another bystander to do so. Ensuring that medical professionals reach the affected person as soon as possible is still critical to increasing their chances of survival.   

Special guidelines for younger individuals learning CPR

According to a recent AHA study, children in early middle school have the potential to learn the proper CPR technique and help save lives in the event of an emergency. However, training for children often varies from training for adults and medical professionals. Hands-only CPR is a short form method of CPR often used for training those below the age of 18. 

Interim guidance for the Covid pandemic

In 2020, the AHA released temporary guidelines in effect for the duration of the Covid pandemic. These temporary guidelines added a step prior to offering CPR through the CAB method mentioned above. After calling 911 or directing another bystander to do so, anyone administering CPR should first put on PPE (personal protective equipment) whenever possible. 

A mask or gloves are highly recommended for preventing the spread of the infectious disease and putting others at risk. Offering rescue breathes is particularly risky in terms of either contracting or spreading the disease and should only be administered following a full series of chest compressions. Anyone seeking to learn CPR right now will likely come across the AHA’s interim guidelines. These temporary instructions will likely be in place until the effects of Covid-19 are mitigated for the majority of the American population. 

Where can I get an updated CPR certification?

An online or in-person accredited CPR course will cover all applicable AHA guidelines and teach you the most up-to-date methods for administering CPR. Anyone can learn CPR, even if you do not have any prior medical knowledge or background. 

Understanding the basic methods for resuscitation can help save the life of someone experiencing cardiac arrest or heart failure. And if that isn’t reason enough to learn CPR, these training courses can also teach you the correct method for learning to use an AED (automated external defibrillator). Many workplaces, even those beyond the medical field, may also require employees to learn the basics of CPR and AED use. Learning the correct methods for CPR helps create a safe and secure environment in the workplace, at home, or in your community. 


Ellen Diamond did her degree in psychology at the University of Edinburgh. She is interested in mental health and well-being.


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