When to Stop Performing CPR


As it’s widely known, CPR is important. Knowing how and when to do it has beneficial aspects. However, knowing when to stop can also make a big difference. It might look easy, but this is a delicate process that requires you to know the balance between effective CPR efforts and recognizing when further compression is no longer needed.

In this article, we’ll explore the overall importance of this technique while focusing on when to stop performing CPR, as it can play a huge role in the outcome for the victim that’s experiencing cardiac arrest. So without further ado, let’s dive in!

Understanding CPR

CPR should be immediately administered when someone experiences cardiac arrest, as this can improve the chances of them surviving. Cardiac arrest is a major public health challenge and, as such, shouldn’t be taken lightly.

Let’s start by explaining CPR as a whole. This life-saving technique has been first introduced as a method to help if someone is drowning. Nowadays, it’s so advanced that it’s actually a vital technique that can help save lives during emergencies involving the heart and lungs.

In a scenario where a person suddenly collapses, their heart stops beating, and they’re outside of a hospital setting, their life now depends on bystander CPR. Otherwise, permanent brain damage can occur within less than four minutes—sometimes, this can result in death.

Naturally, the faster CPR is initiated, the better. However, not everyone knows the proper way to give CPR, which is why taking the CPR Lanham Class first is always advised. Without the proper training, you might fail at performing effective CPR or worse—not even start out of fear.

The CPR Step-By-Step Guide

Before we get into when’s the best time to stop performing CPR, it’s important you understand how basic CPR is done. That’s why we’ve prepared the following short guide that will walk you through the crucial steps of performing CPR:

      • STEP 1: Approach the victim and check if they’re responsive and if they’re breathing.

      • STEP 2: Call 911 immediately or ask someone else to do it for you.

      • STEP 3: In case the person isn’t breathing, proceed with CPR.

        • STEP 4: Make sure to keep your arms straight, lock your elbows, and start compressing the chest by at least 2 inches and at a rate of around 100–120 compressions per minute. Let the chest come back to its normal position after every compression.

        • STEP 5: Give two rescue breaths that last no longer than a second.

        • STEP 6: Perform 30 chest compressions with 2 rescue breaths after each set until medical help arrives.

      By following this guide, you can learn how to perform effective CPR and potentially save a life. However, keep in mind that the CPR Lanham Class, accredited by the American Heart Association, will teach you a lot more.

      Signs to Stop Performing CPR

      It’s understandable to feel a little overwhelmed by the situation and think you should continue performing CPR no matter what happens. However, that is far from the right way. Let’s take a look at the signs telling you when to stop performing CPR.

      Signs of Life

      It’s hard coping with the stress that arises with medical emergencies, but you should know that staying confident and aware of what’s happening plays a huge role. For example, it can sometimes happen for the victim to give signs of life, like hand movement or sudden breaths while performing CPR.

      That’s why it’s very important to stay observant during the whole procedure. Otherwise, you might miss important signs telling you to stop giving chest compressions. That said, if you notice the victim has regained consciousness and started breathing, you should stop performing CPR right away.

      When There’s an Automated External Defibrillator Near You

      Usually, when cardiac arrest occurs, you won’t be as lucky as to get your hands on an automated external defibrillator immediately. Even though many schools and shopping malls are already equipped with an AED, private homes aren’t. And 73.4% of cardiac arrest cases happen in private locations.

      If you’re performing CPR and an AED becomes available, you should immediately stop. The device will analyze the heart’s rhythm and will deliver an electric shock to restore a normal heartbeat.

      When Medical Help Arrives

      It’s important to note that CPR will never fully substitute for advanced medical equipment and experienced healthcare providers. However, what it can do is buy time until professional medical help arrives.

      Once they arrive at the scene, it’s time you stop performing CPR. They will take it over from there—healthcare providers have access to medical equipment and are skilled in dealing with these kinds of emergency situations.

      The fact that the victim is going from bystander CPR to professional medical care significantly increases the chances for a positive outcome. According to the American Heart Association, the survival rate for out-of-hospital cardiac arrests is twice or thrice bigger if bystander CPR was previously performed.

      When You’re Exhausted

      Starting to feel exhausted when performing chest compressions is common. Once you start feeling tired and don’t have the strength to continue, you should immediately stop performing CPR. The reason is simple—if you’re feeling fatigued, it can negatively impact your ability to perform high-quality CPR.

      When you find yourself in such a situation, it’s important to step back and let someone else continue with CPR. For this reason, it is always recommended that CPR be conducted with at least two people—that way, there can be alternations so neither gets tired, and the victim gets the right CPR.

      Considering the Victim’s Condition

      Besides the above-listed signs, you should also take the victim’s condition into account when deciding the right time to stop CPR. You should know that these won’t always point you in the right direction, as cardiac arrest is unpredictable. But they are a good indicator that you should probably stop performing CPR.


      Probably unexpected, but the age of the person experiencing cardiac arrest plays a huge role in determining if you should continue or stop giving CPR. That’s because age can impact the outcome of CPR, as well as the overall chances for recovery.

      If the victim is an infant or a young adult, it’s recommended to provide a longer CPR than those in adults, as the chances of survival are higher. On the other hand, an adult or an elderly might suffer from an underlying condition or be fragile due to aging, which could impact the successful outcome.

      According to one study, out of 810 patients admitted after OHCA, 68% achieved ROSC. This means both infants and elderly people had their heart function successfully restored after CPR. However, in-hospital cases showed that the survival rate was definitely lower in elderly patients, accounting for 33%, compared to younger patients, which accounted for 57%. Additionally, the study also showed that elderly patients were more likely to have some neurological side effects compared to younger ones.

      Underlying Health Condition

      CPR is truly an effective life-saving technique, but if the person suffers from certain health conditions, CPR might not be the best choice. This is because when you’re giving CPR, the chest of the victim is pressured, and if not careful, it can lead to possible harm.

      The unfortunate thing is, if you’re performing bystander CPR on a stranger, you probably won’t know if they’re suffering from a health condition. However, in cases when cardiac arrest happens, CPR is the best option.

      Bottom Line

      Although we’ve emphasized countless times that CPR is a technique needed when cardiac arrests happen, as you’ve seen, you must know when to stop administering it. It may seem simple and universal, but this technique is far from that, as depending on the victim’s age, health, etc., it can alter.
      However, the CPR Lanham Class is designed to address these situations, as well as countless others, and help you perform CPR the right way—including knowing when to stop. That being said, since you’re now familiar with the threat of cardiac arrest and the importance of CPR, it’s time to take the first steps toward learning it.