Make informed decisions about CPR.

What is involved in cardio-pulmonary resuscitation (CPR)?

CPR can include someone:

  • Pressing on the chest to pump blood through your heart to your body
  • Forcing air into your lungs to get oxygen to your brain
  • Giving medicines to try and restart your heart
  • Using electric shock from a machine to try and restart your heart

If your heart is restarted, you could be put on life support machines.

Should everyone have CPR?

CPR can work for adults who are fairly healthy, and only if others are there when it happens and someone starts CPR right away.

How well does CPR work?

If your heart stops for more than five minutes, there is a good chance you will have brain damage or die.

Of the adults who have CPR right away, only two to three out of 20 adults (10 to 15 per cent) are likely to survive. Only one out of 20 (five per cent) of those who survive will recover well enough to return home.

The actions involved in CPR can cause broken ribs, and damage to the brain, throat, voice, lungs, and kidneys.

Why might CPR not be right for you?

CPR is not usually effective if CPR is not started right away. It is also not usually effective for:

  • Adults with medical conditions that have already caused damage to their heart, lungs, kidneys, or brain.
  • Adults who are at the natural end of their life.

Even if the heart is restarted, CPR will not improve any medical condition that caused the heart to stop.

What if CPR is not to be done?

You will continue to get good medical care, including care to keep you comfortable. This includes treating pain and other symptoms. Our goal is to respect your wishes, provide the right care at all times, and support you and your family during your illness.

How can I make my wishes known?

Talk with your doctor. Ask what would be best for you should your heart stop.

What is a Medical Order for Scope of Treatment (MOST) form?

Your doctor(s) recommends what is right for you and records it. This can be recorded on a ‘Medical Order for Scope of Treatment’ (or MOST) form (or a provincial ‘No CPR’ form).

The MOST form gives your care team direction for:

  • CPR should your heart and breathing stop.
  • Options for medical treatment. These can focus on comfort goals or be very aggressive.

Learn more about medical order for scope of treatment.

How do I make a plan for the future?

The best way to make sure your family and friends know your wishes for future care is to make an advance care plan. This plan lets your family, your doctor, and other health care providers know what your wishes would be in a variety of circumstances.

Should there come a time when you cannot communicate or you lose your ability to make decisions, your family and/or health care providers can make treatment decisions based on your advance care plan.

If you donʹt make your wishes known, your doctor and loved ones may face some tough decisions. In an emergency, you would probably receive CPR. You could be placed on life support, even if you didnʹt want it.

Learn more about advance care planning, including the My Voice Guide.