What is Hands-Only CPR?

What is Hands-Only CPR?

March 4, 2021

Over the years, there have been many advancements and changes in CPR training. While most of us recognize CPR, or cardiopulmonary resuscitation, as a combination of chest compressions and rescue breaths, it hasn’t always been this way. Over the years, there has been a variety of methods, including attaching someone to horses or barrels, to treat victims without a pulse or who are unable to breathe. 

One of the more recent advancements in CPR training is hands-only CPR, which, as the name suggests, removes the rescue breaths from the equation and requires only chest compressions. In 2008, the American Heart Association officially released its recommendation for shifting to hands-only CPR. Since then, this method has become a critical component of CPR training and certification. 

Here at the American Health Care Academy, we believe that everyone should have the skills and confidence to assist someone in a medical emergency. That’s why we offer affordable and convenient CPR training courses that can be taken 100 percent online and completed at your pace. 

In this blog, we take a closer look at hands-only CPR, one of the more recent advancements in this life-saving procedure, and discuss why you should consider receiving training in CPR. Finally, we look at the benefits of receiving your CPR certification online, which makes learning these skills easier, faster, and more convenient than ever before. 


CPR has come a long way since the bellows method and open-heart massages. While a combination of chest compressions and rescue breaths is the most recognizable form of CPR, many CPR certification programs are advocating for a switch to hands-only CPR. 

Hands-only CPR was formally adopted by many organizations in the early 2000s and it focuses solely on providing chest compressions. This approach has several benefits. It reduces the time of the procedure, and when performed properly, gets the heart beating faster. 

Restarting the heart quicker is critical because, without the heart circulating blood and oxygen throughout the body, the brain can become oxygen-starved and damaged within just minutes. 

Additionally, many bystanders may avoid performing CPR due to the fear of contracting a disease from mouth-to-mouth resuscitation contact. While these fears have been proven false through scientific studies, the myth still prevents many from taking action in the event of an emergency.

Hands-only CPR bypasses these concerns entirely. To better understand this CPR technique, we’ve provided the steps to performing hands-only CPR below: 

  1. Kneel beside the victim and make sure they’re lying on a flat surface. 
  1. Press the heel of one hand at the center of their chest (just below the breastbone). 
  1. Press your other hand on top of the other and interlace your fingers
  1. Shift your body so that your arms are straight and your shoulders are in line with your hands. 
  1. Push hard and fast—make your chest compressions at least two-inches deep at a rate of 100 compressions per minute. 
  1. Continue administering chest compressions, allowing the chest to rise after each compression until medical help arrives. 


Even if you know how to perform CPR, many bystanders are still unsure of exactly when to perform CPR on a victim. This hesitancy to act can have devastating effects. According to reports, only about half of cardiac arrest victims receive bystander CPR, which drastically improves their chance of survival. 

When determining whether or not to administer CPR on an accident victim, there are three primary signs you should look for. If the victim is unconscious, not responding to verbal cues, or unable to breathe, you should immediately begin CPR until medical assistance arrives. In some cases, the victim of a cardiac arrest episode will be able to breathe, although only sporadically. In these cases, you should still provide CPR as soon as possible. 


Learning and becoming certified in CPR is one of the most effective ways that a bystander can take action and save a life at the scene of a medical emergency. Whether the victim is suffering from cardiac arrest, a heart attack, drowning, or choking, CPR can provide life-sustaining assistance during the vital moments before medical professionals arrive. 

For victims of cardiac arrest, this short window of time is especially critical. Just minutes without oxygen circulating to the brain and vital organs can cause permanent, life-threatening damage. 

In fact, studies show that the victim’s survival rate decreases by 7 to 10 percent for every minute that passes if they don’t receive CPR after cardiac arrest. According to a 2014 report, roughly 45 percent of cardiac arrest victims who received bystander CPR survived. Imagine the survival rate if every individual had the skills, knowledge, and confidence to perform CPR in the event of an emergency? 


Whether you’re a medical professional who needs CPR certification/recertification or you simply want to learn an important life-saving procedure, you can learn these skills without leaving the comfort of your own home. Many high-quality training programs offer 100 percent online CPR training courses. Here are some of the primary benefits of online CPR certification: 

1. Fast 

If you need CPR certification or recertification now, an online course is a way to go. You won’t need to wait for classes or an open registration period—online CPR classes are available now and it takes just a few clicks to get started. Once enrolled, some even complete their class within a matter of hours.

2. Convenient

The convenience offered by a 100 percent online CPR course is difficult to match. These classes fit your life and schedule, meaning you can learn at your own pace. Online courses also allow you to start and stop the program whenever you need. This is especially beneficial for working professionals who are trying to fit these classes into their busy schedules.  

3. Affordable

In addition to the speed and convenience of online CPR classes, many are surprised to learn their affordability. Without the costs of renting classrooms and hiring instructors, online courses can pass the savings on to you. Additionally, you have the option to bundle classes, like a combination course in First Aid and CPR, which saves you both time and money. 


Every year in the United States, over 356,000 cardiac arrest episodes occur outside of a hospital. In these moments, the actions of a bystander can make all the difference. When the heart stops beating or the victim is unable to breathe every second count, and that’s why your actions could save a life. 

Hands-only CPR is the latest advancement in this life-saving procedure and has been proven to be effective. By removing rescue breaths, this method focuses on chest compressions that keep the heart pumping blood and oxygen throughout the victim’s body. 

In a CPR training class, you’ll learn this and many other skills so that you have the knowledge and skills to take action in an emergency. With 100 percent online courses, it’s never been easier to receive your CPR certification or CPR recertification. 

American Health Care Academy is dedicated to equipping as many people as possible with the skills necessary to save a life in the event of a medical emergency. We have certified over 700,000 students in the past 11+ years, and we look forward to working with you next. 

For more information, check out our CPR AED certification online, including programs in First Aid, CPR, and CPR/AED. Feel free to reach out with questions at any time. We can be reached at 1-888-277-7865. 

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American Health Care Academy’s mission is to promote, preserve, and improve communities’ health and well-being. We offer professional, updated, and high-quality online health training and prepare individuals from all backgrounds to save lives. 90% of the over 356,000 out-of-hospital cardiac arrests result in death. Join American Health Care Academy today, and do your part to build a community that takes care of its members.

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