The American Heart Association CPR Guidelines

The steps for CPR have not changed since 1954 when it was first introduced by Dr. Peter Safar. The order of the different steps for performing CPR has always been A-B-C, which represents the order airway, breathing, and compressions. This was the accepted best practice up until 2010 when the American Heart Association made revisions to the order of the steps.

Why did the AHA CPR Guidelines Change?

In 2010, the American Heart Association (AHA) released their 2010 Guidelines Highlights which outlines the key changes regarding CPR procedures. The most prominent change being the rearranging the order from A-B-C to C-A-B in the CPR sequence, placing emphasis on the chest compressions.

The AHA’s research concluded that the old approach creates an unnecessary delay in chest compressions. Following the new guidelines, by beginning with chest compressions instead of postponing them until after completing the airway and breathing steps, we are able to get the blood flowing immediately. Immediate restoration of blood circulation has been determined to be the utmost priority for saving the victim’s life.

This change of order applies to adults and children, but not newborn infants.

The Revised AHA CPR Guidelines: C-A-B

Chest Compressions

  • Start by placing the heel of one hand in the center of the chest and place your other hand on top of the first.
  • Push down hard and fast, at the rate of about 100 compressions per minute.
  • Perform 30 compressions and then proceed to the next step.


  • Open airway with a head tilt-chin lift.
  • Look listen and feel for breathing for 5 seconds.


  • Pinch the victims nose.
  • Give two one-second breaths.
  • Repeat chest compressions and breathing steps, 30 compressions then two breaths, until emergency services arrive.

Note that those who are untrained in CPR can simply perform the chest compressions, known as Hands-Only CPR, until help arrives.

2015 AHA Guidelines: More Changes

In 2015, the American Heart Association has made a few more changes to their recommended practices. For a detailed overview, we suggest you review the AHA’s 2015 Guidelines Highlights as it provides a summary by topic of the 2015 changes to resuscitation guidelines.

Stay Informed and Current

If you have not taken a CPR class recently, then these changes may be have been news to you. This is why it is crucial for you to stay current and renew your certification as required. If you are not yet certified or your prior certification is up for renewal, you should consider taking American Heart Association CPR classes or an online CPR certification program.