Cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) is a life-saving technique that has been used for decades to revive individuals who have suffered cardiac arrest. The history of CPR dates back to the mid-1700s when mouth-to-mouth resuscitation was first introduced as a way to revive drowning victims. However, it wasn't until the 1960s that CPR became widely accepted as a standard medical practice.

Today, CPR is a crucial component of emergency medical care, taught to millions each year. The technique involves a combination of chest compressions and rescue breathing and keeps the blood flowing and oxygen circulating in the body when the heart has stopped beating. Anyone, including bystanders, can perform CPR, though it is most administered by trained medical professionals such as paramedics, nurses, and doctors in healthcare settings.

Early History

Ancient Times

Cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) has a long and storied history, with evidence of its use dating back to ancient times. In the 16th century BCE, the ancient Egyptians are believed to have used a technique called "the breath of life" to resuscitate drowning victims. This involved placing the victim on their stomach and rolling them back and forth to expel water from their lungs.

The ancient Greeks also knew resuscitation techniques. In the 4th century BCE, Aristotle wrote about using bellows to inflate the lungs of drowning victims. The Roman physician Galen also wrote about the use of bellows in the 2nd century CE.

18th Century

In the 18th century, the Paris Academy of Sciences reported the first documented case of successful resuscitation. In 1740, a man who had been hanged was revived using mouth-to-mouth resuscitation. This technique involved blowing air into the victim's mouth and compressing their chest to circulate blood.

In the late 18th century, the Society for the Recovery of Drowned Persons was established in London. This society was dedicated to the improvement of resuscitation techniques and the training of individuals in their use.

Overall, the early history of CPR is a testament to the ingenuity and resourcefulness of humans in the face of life-threatening situations. While the techniques used in ancient times were crude by modern standards, they laid the foundation for developing more advanced resuscitation techniques in the following centuries.

Modern History

20th Century

In the 20th century, the development of cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) techniques advanced significantly. In 1960, the American Heart Association (AHA) introduced the concept of cardiopulmonary resuscitation to the public. The AHA established guidelines for the use of chest compressions and rescue breathing, which became the basic components of CPR. These guidelines were revised in 1974 and again in 1980 to reflect new scientific findings and technological advances.

During this time, the use of automated external defibrillators (AEDs) also became more widespread. AEDs are portable devices that can deliver an electric shock to the heart to restore a normal rhythm. They are now commonly found in public places such as airports, shopping malls, and sports arenas.

21st Century

In the 21st century, there have been further advances in CPR techniques and technology. The AHA has updated its CPR guidelines, most recently in 2020. These guidelines emphasize the importance of early recognition and intervention in cardiac arrest, as well as the use of high-quality chest compressions and minimal interruptions in CPR.

New technologies have also been developed to improve the delivery of CPR. For example, mechanical chest compression devices can provide consistent, high-quality chest compressions without requiring rescuers to perform compressions manually. These devices are particularly useful when prolonged CPR is required, such as during transportation to a hospital.

Overall, the modern history of CPR has been characterized by ongoing advancements in technique and technology. These developments have improved the effectiveness of CPR and increased the likelihood of survival for individuals experiencing cardiac arrest.