CPR vs. Heimlich Maneuver: What's the Difference?


You might have taken a CPR class, but it's a good idea to refresh your knowledge. If you're ever in a situation where someone needs CPR, it's important to act quickly and correctly. While administering compressions seems simple enough, there are some differences between the proper technique for both adults and children. If you're unsure about how best to administer CPR in an emergency situation, read on for answers to your most pressing questions about this essential lifesaving technique:

The Heimlich maneuver is a technique for dislodging food or other objects from the airway.

It's a first-aid procedure that can be used for choking victims, but it's not recommended as an alternative to CPR when someone has stopped breathing. If you're unsure whether you should attempt the Heimlich maneuver, call 911 immediately.

Using abdominal thrusts as a first response for choking: Stand behind the victim and wrap your arms around their waist; make a fist with one hand and place it just above their belly button (this is called "fist position"). Place your other hand on top of your fist so that both hands are pressing into their abdomen at once; pull upward sharply while pushing inward forcefully three times in quick succession--about one second apart--until help arrives or the object comes out on its own.

Use abdominal thrusts as a first response to choking.

If you are alone and someone is choking, place yourself flat against a wall or other sturdy object to prevent injury to yourself or the person who is choking. Then, place one hand on top of the other with your fingers interlaced and press down sharply into their abdomen (towards their spine) five times in quick succession. After each thrust, check if they are breathing normally again before continuing with more abdominal thrusts if necessary.

If another person is available who can perform the Heimlich maneuver:

  • Have them call 911 immediately; then proceed with steps 2-4 below until help arrives

If someone is unable to respond or talk, do not attempt the Heimlich maneuver.

Instead, call 911 and let them know that you are performing abdominal thrusts on the victim.

The use of abdominal thrusts as a first response for choking in adults and children over 1-year-old who are conscious, alert, and not coughing forcefully (i.e., they're able to speak) is recommended. If you're unsure whether you should attempt the Heimlich maneuver, call 911 immediately!

If you're unsure whether you should attempt the Heimlich maneuver, call 911 immediately.

If the person is conscious, ask them if they want you to try the Heimlich maneuver. If so, follow these steps:

  • Stand behind the person who's choking and place your arms around their waist with one hand just above their belly button and your other hand below it (this will help create more force).
  • Make a fist with one hand and place it between their ribs and upper abdomen--just below where their lungs are located--so that your thumb points toward their back (the location of most organs). This is where food often lodges during an obstruction; having this spot in mind will allow more control over where pressure is applied later on in step 3 below when performing compressions on someone who may be experiencing cardiac arrest due to choking/asphyxiation symptoms due to lack of oxygen reaching vital organs due to blockage caused by food lodged within throat/esophagus area."

These two methods have similarities and key differences -- it's important to understand how they differ so you can help someone who's choking.

The Heimlich maneuver is used to dislodge foreign objects from the throat. It's also known as abdominal thrusts, or "the Heimlich." The technique involves placing your arms around the person who is choking, then using your hands to press firmly inwards and upwards just above their belly button (not too high). This forces air out of their lungs and frees their airway from any blockage.

MyCPR NOW recommends performing this action until the object is dislodged or you see signs that they are no longer choking -- coughing or breathing normally again. You should never use this method if there's a chance that something sharp could pierce your hand while pressing against them; it's also not advised if someone has asthma or another medical condition where pressure could be dangerous for them. For example: If someone had an allergic reaction while eating peanuts at dinner tonight, don't try using abdominal thrusts because they may not work well due to swelling in their throat caused by severe allergic reactions like peanut allergies! Instead, call 911 immediately so paramedics can take over care duties until further notice...


If you're unsure whether you should attempt the Heimlich maneuver, call 911 immediately. If you do decide to try it, make sure that the person is sitting upright and can breathe before proceeding with the technique. Also remember: Using abdominal thrusts as a first response for choking is recommended because they're easier than abdominal thrusts in people who are unconscious or unable to speak due to other medical conditions like anaphylaxis (an allergic reaction).


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