How deep should you compress the chest during chest compressions?

Chest compressions are the most important component of Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation (CPR). They work by manually ‘squeezing’ the heart and pushing blood around the body in order to keep vital organs alive.

In order for chest compressions to be effective, they must be performed at the correct depth in order to maximize blood flow. The International Liaison Committee on Resuscitation (ILCOR) advises that chest compressions be delivered at a depth of 5 – 6cm over the center of the chest.

This depth is required in order to provide adequate blood flow to the vital organs. Chest compressions that do not achieve this depth are unlikely to be effective in moving blood around the body. Therefore it is critical that first aiders and first responders are able to perform adequate chest compressions and swap over regularly in order to prevent fatigue. 

Ideally, a rescuer should perform chest compressions for no longer than 2 minutes before swapping over. 

Most adult victims will require a two-handed technique in order to deliver chest compressions at the appropriate depth. 

Want to learn more lifesaving CPR skills? Sign up to our free online CPR training course to develop your resuscitation knowledge. 

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