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Best Guide On Checking The Pulse During CPR

checking the pulse during CPR

Lay responders cannot their waste time when someone is losing their life due to medical emergency situations. There might be delays in checking the right pulse when first responders do not have enough training on critical lifesaving skills like CPR with the usage of AED. The best case would be to begin chest compressions to reboot the heartbeat of the patient. The lay responders must ensure to give as accurate chest compressions as possible. They get that knowledge from American HealthCare Academy’s (AHCA) online CPR/AED certification course. However, when giving CPR to adults, checking the pulse after every 2 minutes is ideal for increasing the rate of survival of the patient. But most first responders have confusion about checking pulse before and during CPR. In that case, refer to the guide below and check the dos and don’ts of the same.

If You Find Someone With A Faint Pulse, Should You Start CPR?

According to the AHA 2020 guidelines, Compression-Airway-Breathing (C-A-B) is the better way to begin CPR. And when you perform CPR, it is only after confirming that the person’s heart has stopped beating as it should. So, ideally, checking pulse during CPR is not recommended.

But you must start CPR when you find that the person is not having any pulse at the moment. It means that their heart is becoming dead, or it already is. You cannot waste any more seconds. So, instead, as a lay responder, you have to begin taking charge. That can be by:

  • First, shaking and shouting at the patient.
  • You must call for external help by dialing 9-1-1 when the person is not responding.
  • When there is no response even in a few seconds of the assessment of the situation, start with chest compressions.
  • The paramedics on call can guide you to assess the situation and help save a life. Otherwise, your certified CPR training from AHCA helps you save a dying patient.

When you begin performing CPR, do not worry about hurting the patient. There are rare cases when the rib gets damaged during CPR. But if you delay giving CPR, someone might die. And doctors can repair bones but not someone who dies.

Even if you find that the patient starts gasping for air, do not stop the C-A-B method in CPR. The sign of gasping is an indication that you’re performing CPR as recommended. You have to wait for the paramedics to arrive at the scene. Till then, ensure that the patient does not miss the beat.

How Often Do You Check For A Pulse During CPR

Checking pulse during CPR is not compulsory. The emphasis is on the chest compressions to regularize the heartbeat before paramedics arrive with AED and additional help. However, lay responders can check the pulse of the patient after every 2 minutes. The process has to be consistent before the AED is made available at the scene of this emergency. Single rescuers might have trouble checking the pulse. So they can shout and ask for help. Otherwise, the primary focus has to be on giving chest compressions right and not letting the patient face brain death.

If you know the patient, you can take their name in the middle of giving CPR and checking the pulse rate. When there are two rescuers, you both can shift the duties between giving the chest compressions and checking the pulse. To understand which pulse to check during CPR, know that:

  • When the patient is unresponsive and not even gasping, you can rely on the carotid pulse.
  • Also, check their visible breathing.
  • Do not take more than 10 seconds to check the pulse when the patient is unresponsive.

When there is a defined pulse and inadequate breathing, go for one rescue breath every 3-5 seconds. When the pulse is defined and breathing is effectively working with chest compressions, monitor the patient until the ALS team arrives. When the patient is unresponsive, and there is no pulse, you have to continue giving chest compressions. Remove the patient’s clothes to make it easier for the air to enter.

Viable Methods Of Determining If Your Patient Has A Pulse

For those who are unfamiliar with the terms, the pulse is the unit of the heartbeat to measure it. An extremely low or slow pulse can mean the patient is going into shock or even about to faint. A healthy pulse is about 60-100 beats per minute. So, learn methods to determine the pulse below and save a life with the right life-saving techniques like CPR. These methods include:

Steps to check radial pulse:

  • Turn the patient’s hand over with the palm having the upper side.
  • Use your other hand to place two fingers gently over the forearm’s groove that intersects at the wrist.
  • Place the thumb below the wrist to hold it properly for checking the pulse during CPR.

Steps to check carotid pulse:

  • Check the pulse around the neck or collarbone using two fingers.
  • Press two fingers over the windpipe’s groove very gently. You should feel the pulsation there.

This pulse is a carotid pulse because it runs from those arteries. These arteries run from the heart to the head and help you to check if the person is going into sudden cardiac arrest or not. Other places to find pulse during CPR can be behind the patient’s knees, at the temple, on the top/inner side of the foot, or inside of an elbow.


Checking pulse during CPR can end up wasting crucial time. As a lay responder, you must focus on regularizing the victim’s breathing. However, checking pulse every 2 minutes while performing adult CPR is acceptable. Learn more about such facts about checking pulse during CPR and performing it accurately with an online CPR certification course by AHCA. Register for your course today at our website. Group discounts are also available.