Pressure to Resuscitate

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Pressure to Resuscitate

Unless you have had specific training, what you know about cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) may be based on what you have seen on television or in a movie. You push on the unresponsive patient’s chest when they are not breathing. The compressions (pressure on the chest) take the place of a non-beating heart to keep blood flowing.

According to “Technique for chest compressions in adult CPR,” “Chest compressions have saved the lives of countless patients in cardiac arrest as they generate a small but critical amount of blood flow to the heart and brain.”

And, unlike other medical actions, chest compressions can be initiated by any healthcare provider without a physician’s order.

First aid response for CPR

First aid response for CPR
Image source: Science Photo Library.

For those not trained in CPR, the American Heart Association recommends hands-only CPR: uninterrupted chest compressions of 100 to 120 a minute until paramedics arrive. This means pushing straight down to compress the chest using your upper body weight (not just your arms) at least 2 inches (or about 5 centimeters) but not greater than 2.4 inches (about 6 centimeters). With the compression, the heart is squeezed and increases both the aortic and the right atrial pressures. Normal aortic pressures during systole (from the time the aortic valve opens until the peak aortic pressure), range from 80 mmHg to 120 mmHg. So how much pressure is required for the heart and for the brain in CPR? In a laboratory environment, researchers continue to explore the implications to improve the outcomes of CPR.

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