Hands-Only CPR for Adults

Medically Reviewed by James Beckerman, MD, FACC on November 02, 2022
  • Collapses
  • Becomes unresponsive
  • Tap the person's shoulder and shout, "Are you OK?"
  • Look for normal breathing. Call 911 if there is no response.
  • Start Hands-Only CPR.
  • Hands-Only CPR should not be used for adults whose cardiac arrest is due to drug overdose, near-drowning, or an unwitnessed cardiac arrest. In these cases, do a conventional CPR combination of chest compressions and rescue breathing.

Note: For hands-only CPR instructions, watch this video from the American Heart Association.

  • Place the heel of your hand on the center of the person's chest.
  • Place the heel of your other hand on top of your first hand, lacing fingers together.
  • Keep arms straight and your shoulders directly over your hands.
  • Push hard and fast, compressing chest at least 2 inches.
  • Let chest rise completely before pushing down again.
  • Compress at least 100 times per minute.
  • The person starts breathing normally.
  • A trained responder or emergency help takes over.
  • You are too exhausted to continue.
  • There is an automated external defibrillator (AED) to use.


  • Turn on the AED. It will give you step-by-step instructions.
  • Wipe chest dry.
  • Attach the pads.
  • Plug in connector, if needed.
  • Make sure no one is touching the person. Say "Clear" so that people know to stay back and not touch the person.
  • Push the "Analyze" button if necessary.
  • If a shock is advised, push the "Shock" button.
  • Resume compressions and follow AED prompts.

Show Sources


American Red Cross: "American Red Cross Launches Citizen CPR Campaign to Educate 5 Million People in Hands-Only CPR by End of 2011" and "Hands-Only Citizen CPR."

American Heart Association: "Hands-Only CPR;" "Hands-Only CPR simplifies saving lives for bystanders;" and "Two Steps to Staying Alive With Hands-Only CPR."


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