Debunking Common Myths About CPR: Separating Fact from Fiction

Busting Common Myths About CPR: Facts vs. Fiction

Cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) is a vital skill that can help you make a life-or-death difference during medical emergencies. Most of you reading this article already have an idea of what CPR is, mostly as a result of Hollywood movies. While the inclusion of CPR in movies helps raise awareness, it also depicts many myths related to CPR.

In fact, there are several common myths about CPR that are more important than it may seem at first since they can hinder you from performing it effectively. Being able to discern truth from misconceptions will define how successful you are with your CPR efforts.

Our article is going to focus on debunking these common myths and help straighten things out so that you have all the truthful information on CPR. By doing so, we hope to empower you to perform CPR confidently and effectively. So, let’s dive right in!

Debunking A Few Common Myths About CPR

Myths about CPR are numerous, and the movie industry isn’t helping to reduce them, so we will take a careful look at some of the most important ones that can make CPR effective or turn it into a huge disaster:

Myth #1: Mouth-to-Mouth Resuscitation is Always Required

One of the most common myths about CPR is the belief that mouth-to-mouth rescue breaths are always necessary. In reality, compressions are what matters more, particularly during sudden cardiac arrests, as shown by the American Heart Association’s (AHA) recommendations to focus on compressions first and foremost.

AHA guidelines state that rescuers should immediately commence chest compressions on a cardiac arrest victim and primarily focus on them. Essentially, the steps of CPR confirm this, as a set of 30 chest compressions is done first, before administering 2 rescue breaths and doing the cycle again. The compressions directly affect the heart, inducing it to pump blood throughout the body.

Rescue breaths can still be helpful, as they help oxygenize the blood that you help circulate via the chest compressions. However, if you’re comfortable (and trained) with performing rescue breaths, and the victim isn’t vomiting or bleeding from the mouth, mouth-to-mouth is very effective in support of chest compressions.

Myth #2: A Person in Cardiac Arrest Has No Pulse

It’s commonly believed that a cardiac arrest victim will have no pulse, and this makes sense. If the heart isn’t pumping, how can you feel a pulse? Still, the AHA has issued guidelines that point out that checking for a pulse is no longer required and can end up wasting crucial time that can be used for administering CPR. The pulse can, but doesn’t have to be absent during a cardiac arrest.

In situations where you suspect a cardiac arrest, it’s crucial to begin chest compressions immediately without any delay whatsoever, as they can help circulate blood and oxygen to vital organs. This can increase the chances of survival until professional medical services arrive.

Myth #3: You Might Cause Serious Harm by Performing CPR

Some individuals fear that performing CPR may cause harm to the victim. In most cases, this is true, but the harm is inconsequential relative to the life-saving potential of the techniques.

In other words, not performing CPR can be more detrimental than breaking a rib or cracking someone’s sternum. The harm you may cause isn’t going to endanger a person clinging to life any more than the major cardiac event already has.

When the heart stops beating, the brain rapidly loses oxygen, leading to permanent brain damage within minutes. This shifts priorities towards the perseverance of life over traumatic injuries that aren’t life-threatening.

Myth #4: You Should Keep Doing CPR Until the Patient Has Been Revived

Many recommendations state that you shouldn’t stop performing CPR until a person has been revived. That isn’t always true, as, once again, people don’t just miraculously wake up like in the movies. While CPR is a crucial intervention, it’s also very physically strenuous, which is a big limiting factor in terms of its efficiency.

The rule of thumb is that you need to keep administering CPR until professional medical services take over. This might also take time, so if another person certified for CPR is near, you should switch to preserve your strength. It’s also important to note that CPR may not always end up being successful, but the decision to stop is only in the hands of medical professionals.

Myth #5: Electric Shock is The First Choice for Cardiac Arrest

Delivering electric shocks, also known as defibrillation, is an important method of delivering aid to cardiac arrest victims. Still, it’s not always the first-line defense. In certain medical emergency scenarios where respiratory distress is the cause of the victim’s condition, AEDs aren’t as important as rescue breaths. Drowning victims are a clear example of prioritizing CPR over electric shocks during resuscitation.

High-quality chest compressions are the initial step in CPR. You should initiate them as soon as possible. Defibrillation is typically used in instances of cardiac arrest, but since it depends on the availability of a defibrillator, sticking to chest compressions is your primary method of delivering aid.

Myth #6: CPR Can Restart the Heart

Contrary to popular belief, CPR alone isn’t enough to restart a heart that isn’t contracting anymore. The chest compressions performed during CPR have the sole task of ensuring that oxygenated blood keeps circulating to the vital organs, most notably the brain. Since the heart isn’t beating, the compressions mimic the effect via an external source – the rescuer.

For the most part, additional interventions such as defibrillation, medications, and advanced life support are necessary to restore a normal heart rhythm. As vital as CPR is in keeping someone alive, it’s a technique that we use to buy time until professional medical help can provide more definitive treatment options.

Myth #7: CPR is Only for Medical Professionals

This one is the most obvious among the common myths about CPR and is the least believable one. The bottom line is that anyone can perform CPR as long as they’ve undergone the proper CPR training and certification. AHA recommendations emphasize that anyone can learn how to perform CPR during emergencies.

Basic CPR classes are widely available, and they provide all the necessary theoretical knowledge and practical skills to help you perform CPR correctly. Timely initiation of CPR can significantly impact the outcome of a catastrophic cardiac event, so it’s not important who delivers it as long as it has been delivered as early as possible.

Additional Important Information on CPR

Myths and misconceptions can get in the way of successfully administering CPR when it matters the most. A few additional handy tips to clear up some less-known aspects of CPR, which are sometimes a source of confusion, are as follows:

    • Proper Training. Proper training is essential to ensure that CPR is performed correctly. It’s highly recommended that you enroll in a CPR Certification class in Baton Rouge. These classes provide hands-on practice and guidance from certified instructors, which will quickly give you all the confidence and understanding you need to perform CPR in real-life emergency situations.

    • Good Samaritan Laws. Good Samaritan laws are a legal framework that protects you in case you have to provide emergency medical assistance, including CPR, and you’re not a medical professional. These laws vary by jurisdiction, so it’s important to familiarize yourself with the specific ones in your state.

    • Regular Certification Renewal. CPR guidelines and techniques are continuously updated based on the latest research and advancements in medical science. Since CPR certification has a two-year expiration rate, you’ll have to renew it every two years to ensure that you’re up to date with the latest advancements and remain certified.

    • Public Awareness. Creating awareness about CPR and dispelling common myths is crucial to encourage more people to learn CPR and take immediate action during cardiac emergencies. Public education campaigns, community workshops, and workplace training programs all play a significant role in increasing CPR knowledge and encouraging people to get certified.


It’s crucial to debunk common myths surrounding CPR so that you can be sure you’re being effective when you’re trying to administer it to a victim in critical need of resuscitation. Common myths about CPR are fueled by the movie industry, which tends to intertwine myths and truth for entertainment purposes but ends up confusing those who need to administer it in real life.

Myths about the role of rescue breaths, the presence or absence of a pulse, the role of an AED, or that you should keep performing CPR until the person is revived are some of the most common ones. This article serves to dispel these myths, as well as explore a few other misunderstandings regarding CPR. If you want to learn more, consider enrolling in one of our CPR certification courses, and you’ll never fall prey to another CPR myth again!