Complications of CPR

Cardiopulmonary resuscitation, commonly known as CPR, is lifesaving. CPR is a combination of chest compressions and rescue breathing. When a person has a cardiac arrest and the heart stops or beats in a chaotic rhythm, blood is not efficiently circulated throughout the body. CPR helps circulate blood to the heart and brain until a normal heart rhythm is restored. Although it can be lifesaving, there are possible complications of CPR.

Broken Ribs
As the person doing CPR compresses on the chest, it is possible to fracture a rib. This complication can occur in children and adults, but is less common in kids. People who are elderly may have weaker bones and are more likely to have a fractured rib during CPR. Ensuring proper hand position, may help reduce rib fractures, although they can still occur.

NSA BAHRAIN_130708-N-AZ907-005

Rescue breathing or using an ambu-bag to provide assisted ventilation to a patient who is not breathing is part of cardiopulmonary resuscitation. In addition to going into the lungs, air may enter the stomach during rescue breathing. This can cause stomach distention and may lead to vomiting. If vomiting occurs, the CPR provider should clear the mouth with a clean cloth if possible before resuming rescue breathing. Forcing more air into the mouth if vomit is present, can cause the vomit to enter the lungs and lead to aspiration pneumonia.

Liver Laceration
Because of the location of the liver, a laceration is possible during compressions. Although it is not a common complication of CPR, it may occur. Liver laceration is more likely to occur if compressions are done too forcefully or the chest is compressed at too great a depth.

Ineffective Compressions.
If the hands are positioned incorrectly, or compressions are done too slow, the compressions may not be effective in circulating the blood throughout the body. Attending a cardiopulmonary resuscitation class is the best way to learn the correct way of performing CPR. Since compression rates and techniques differ depending on the age of the victim, a class which teachers infant, pediatric and adult CPR is advisable.

Although proper training in cardiopulmonary resuscitation reduces the risk of injury and complications, they can still occur. The longer CPR is performed the more likely complications may occur. Even when CPR is done correctly complications are possible. Since not doing CPR on someone who is in cardiac arrest would lead to death, CPR should be performed to increase the chances of survival.

Merck Manuals

123 CPR

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