The steps for CPR had not changed since 1954, when Dr. Peter Safar first introduced it. The different steps for performing CPR have always been A-B-C, which represents airway, breathing, and compressions. This was the accepted best practice until 2010 when the American Heart Association revised 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 was the rearranging of the order from A-B-C to C-A-B in the CPR sequence, emphasizing 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 can get the blood flowing immediately. Immediate restoration of blood circulation has been determined to be the utmost priority for saving a person’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 victim’s nose.
  • Give two one-second breaths.
  • Repeat chest compressions and breathing steps, 30 compressions, then two breaths, until emergency services arrive.

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

2015 AHA Guidelines: More Changes

In 2015, the American Heart Association made a few more changes to its 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 have been news to you. This is why you must 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.