How long should you continue CPR? Longer than 30 Minutes

In CPR, Research by Paul Martin5 Comments

CPR for How Long?A new study has found that keeping resuscitation efforts going for longer could improve brain function in survivors.  The sooner that CPR is started after someone’s heart stops, the better.  That we can all agree on.  Now, Japanese researchers report that continuing CPR for a half-hour or more may help victims survive with good brain function – even after a full 38 minutes – according to a study presented at the American Heart Association’s Scientific Sessions 2013.

But how did the researchers come to these conclusions?

They reviewed data on more than 280,000 people who had experienced cardiac arrest outside a hospital. When the patients’ hearts stopped, there had been at least one other person nearby.  Next, they narrowed that large group down to those whose hearts started beating on their own after resuscitation. Doctors call this “return of spontaneous circulation.” This group included almost 32,000 people.

When the researchers examined those patients 30 days after their cardiac arrest, they found that just more than 27 percent had good brain function.  Those who had good brain function averaged 13 minutes from the moment their heart stopped until their heart started beating again on its own. Those with less favorable outcomes averaged almost 22 minutes of resuscitation efforts before their hearts started beating again.  Some people even had favorable outcomes after as long as 38 minutes of resuscitation efforts. (via)

After adjusting for other factors that can affect neurological outcomes, researchers found that the odds of surviving an out-of-hospital cardiac arrest without severe brain damage dropped 5 percent for every 60 seconds that passed before spontaneous circulation was restored.

Based on the relationship between favorable brain outcomes and the time from collapse to a return of spontaneous circulation, the researchers calculated that CPR lasting 38 minutes or more was advisable.

“It may be appropriate to continue CPR if the return of spontaneous circulation occurs for any period of time,” said Ken Nagao, M.D., Ph.D., professor and director-in-chief of the Department of Cardiology, CPR and Emergency Cardiovascular Care at Surugadai Nihon University Hospital in Tokyo.

This research hasn’t been officially published in a peer-reviewed journal yet, but the findings are encouraging.

Paul Martin

Paul Martin

I am the Director of Multimedia at ProTrainings, as well as the primary blogger here. I take care of the video editing, graphic design and corporate branding that you see on every video and every page on this site, as well as at ProCPR®, ProFirstAid®, ProBloodborne, StudentCPR, etc. My work is literally everywhere that ProTrainings goes. I also handle our Twitter accounts, so be sure to follow us there, if you use twitter! You can be sure that I’m not just an average joe writing this blog, but one of the founders of the company.

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  1. Andrew Randazzo

    Great post. I teach a lot of CPR classes, and people always ask me how long they should do CPR. I give them a few criteria of when they can stop, but this sets a goal they should reach for.

  2. Sarah Head

    Really? Because my dad received cpr for TWENTY minutes last week when he went into cardiac arrest. Since he was already at an ER (and already WITH THE DOCTOR) for breathing trouble, he received cpr RIGHT AWAY. Since his brain was without oxygen for so long (remember, they performed CPR for 20 minutes), the only part of his brain that was NOT severely damaged was his brain stem. So I think you should reevaluate the accuracy of your sources.

    1. Paul Martin Author
      Paul Martin

      I’m sorry that your experience wasn’t better. I can’t claim to know what you’re going through, and what the causes of the cardiac arrest were that lead to this result. Sometimes there are complications that change the potential outcome and it is out of our control. I recommend watching this video for more information.

      1. Sarah Head

        The brain stops receiving oxygen after about 4 minutes. After a few more minutes you start to get brain hypoxia (brain damage due to not getting enough oxygen to your brain). Just a few minutes after that, your brain hypoxia turns into anoxia – which is obviously much worse. So I don’t see how performing CPR for 30 minutes is at all effective. People usually stop performing CPR after about 10 minutes because, after that, there’s already too much irreversible brain damage – which essentially leaves and individual brain dead.
        BTW, my dad passed away (the day after I posted my original comment) due to severe anoxic brain damage (because of not getting any oxygen to his brain for 16 minutes).

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