How CPR Helps: Understanding Clinical vs. Biological Death

Imagine finding yourself in an unexpected emergency situation where, just out of the blue, a person drops to the ground unconscious. Chances are, you’ve never really considered what you might do if you were to find yourself in this situation. Your typical reaction might be to try and help that person, but if you don’t have the proper training, what would you do? If you notice that the person is unresponsive, the next step would be to call an ambulance and perform CPR—if you have CPR training. But what if by the time the ambulance arrives, the person passes away? Is there anything else that you could have done to prevent that? According to statistics revealed by, more than 40 percent of Americans, dying from cardiac arrest yearly, receive no CPR at all. By administering proper CPR—even if it is not successful—you are doing everything in your power to try to assist the victim as best you can.

The Purpose Of CPR

In all honesty, most people are not aware of the primary purpose of CPR (Cardio-Pulmonary Resuscitation). Ironically enough, the purpose of CPR is not to resuscitate, but to provide oxygen circulation to the brain to keep it alive. Often, a person receiving CRP will not regain consciousness. That being said, it’s important to know that the person performing CPR is not to be blamed in case of a fatal outcome.

To understand more about CPR First Aid Certification, it is important for you to comprehend that clinical death and biological death are two very distinct things. When we talk about clinical death, we speak of the heart having stopped. On the other hand, biological death indicates that the brain has stopped functioning.

Clinical Death vs Biological Death

Let’s explain this difference with a simple example: When a person collapses due to cardiac arrest, he or she is clinically dead. The heart has stopped, but the brain is still functioning. CPR is performed to keep oxygen flow to the brain, thereby “prolonging” eventual biological death. CPR can resuscitate a person in only two percent of these occasions, which means it does not replace breathing.

CPR can, at most, provide 20 percent of the oxygen needed for a person to remain alive. Therefore, CPR alone can’t prevent the death of a person, after the heart has stopped beating. However, CPR can keep oxygen flowing to a person’s brain until an ambulance and EMS professionals arrive, thus raising the victim’s chances of being revived and resuscitated without brain damage.

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