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Cardio Pulmonary Resuscitation (CPR)

What is cardio-pulmonary resuscitation?
Cardio-pulmonary resuscitation (CPR) is using emergency treatment to try to re-start your heart and breathing if these stop.  CPR might include:

•    forcefully massaging your chest (external cardiac massage)
•    using electric shocks (a defibrillator) to try and re-start your heart 
•    ‘mouth to mouth’ breathing
•    putting air into your lungs via a mask or a tube inserted into your windpipe (ventilation)

Whilst immediate emergency treatment can be done here at Velindre hospital, if you should need further treatment, then we would transfer you to the University Hospital of Wales (UHW) or another hospital if necessary.  An example of other treatment could be the need for you to be connected to a machine known as a ventilator; this would be in an Intensive Care Unit. 

Why should I think about CPR?
We understand it can be very difficult to think about the end of life, although many people have strong views about what they do or do not want.  Many people are clear that they want to be allowed to die naturally when the time comes. 

You should not be alarmed if CPR is mentioned.  It is important that all patients, including those not at immediate risk, know about CPR and have the chance to tell us what they want.  Please let us know if you have strong feelings about this.

Is CPR tried on everyone whose heart and lungs stop working?
Yes.  CPR would always be attempted unless it has been realised in advance that it would not be helpful and that death is happening naturally.  If it would be wrong to attempt CPR because of this, then the doctor will write in the medical notes to ‘Allow Natural Death’.  

What is the chance of CPR reviving me?
This will depend on the reason that your heart and lungs have stopped and also any illnesses you have.  Research studies have shown that CPR is very rarely successful in patients who have advanced cancer.

But what if I want everything done?
All treatments at Velindre try to treat your cancer and you will be offered everything that will help you. A decision about attempting CPR is only about CPR.  It does not affect any other treatment you get.

Many people do feel they want all treatment to help, but if that is no longer possible then trying to prolong poor quality life is futile.  We all reach a point where our hearts stop and we die.  If an emergency happens, the team of doctors, nurses and others looking after you will do all they can, taking account of your wishes and also those close to you.

Can I change my mind?
Yes, if you change your mind at any time then please tell a member of your team.

Who can I talk to about this?
You can talk to the nurse or doctor who is looking after you. If they cannot answer all of your questions, then we will arrange to talk to you another time or for you to talk to someone else.

If you feel you would want to accept death without us attempting CPR when the time comes, please tell the staff looking after you so that they can make sure that your wishes are respected.

This information leaflet has been written by health professionals. The information contained in this leaflet is evidence based. This leaflet has been approved by a team of doctors, nurses and patients.  It is reviewed and updated every two years.

Velindre Cancer Centre, Velindre Road, Whitchurch, Cardiff, CF14 2TL
Tel: 029 2061 5888