The Difference Between Hands-Only and Traditional CPR

The Difference Between Hands-Only and Traditional CPR

When you think of someone administering CPR, you likely picture them pushing the chest at intervals and administering mouth-to-mouth resuscitation. We call this traditional CPR; however, it might surprise you that there is another type of CPR, known as hands-only CPR, which does not require mouth-to-mouth. Both forms are valid and lifesaving, but there are key differences between hands-only and traditional CPR.


Traditional CPR, commonly known as mouth-to-mouth, is the most recognizable form of CPR. When someone suffers a cardiac arrest, they might also struggle to breathe, which is a serious emergency as the victim receives little to no oxygen to their bloodstream. It’s best to administer mouth-to-mouth in the event of a drowning, overdose, sudden cardiac arrest in children or infants, and any trauma where breathing issues are present.


The main difference between hands-only and traditional CPR is that hands-only does not include mouth-to-mouth resuscitation; of course, this might cause you to question its effectiveness. When we imagine someone experiencing a sudden cardiac arrest, we might assume they need rescue breath and chest compressions.

However, studies have shown that hands-only CPR is as helpful as traditional in the first minutes of cardiac arrest, and it might even be more effective. The reason is that a victim loses out on precious time when a bystander administers rescue breath as it can disrupt the rhythm of the chest compressions. Moreover, a bystander is more likely to step in when they know they can administer hands-only CPR as it is more simple than traditional.


Whether it is hands-only or traditional CPR, both methods are vitally useful in the event of sudden cardiac arrest. One cannot understate just how crucial it is to know CPR and when to use it. Most cardiac arrests happen in public or the home, which is scary as there are no healthcare professionals to help. But just one bystander who knows how to administer CPR can be the key to keeping a victim alive long enough for emergency responders to arrive.

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