Closed-chest cardiac massage is a synonymous term for the chest compressions that are typically used as part of cardiopulmonary resuscitation, which is also known as CPR; chest compressions alone are performed in cases where a person is suspected to be suffering cardiac arrest. CPR involves a process of both administering chest compressions (closed-chest cardiac massage) and performing rescue breathing, and this first aid technique should be used in cases where both heart and lung function is impacted, including electrocution, drowning and heart attack. The closed-chest cardiac massage technique was developed in the late 19th and early 20th centuries as part of a growing effort to respond to first aid emergencies.
According to the National Institutes of Health, chest compressions help keep blood circulating through a patient's body after his heart has stopped. When a person loses consciousness and loses either or both his heartbeat or breathing function, brain damage and even death can result. There are a variety of accidents and conditions that can bring about a loss of breathing function and heartbeat. While it is typically best for a trained individual to administer chest compressions or perform CPR, according to the University of Arizona's Sarver Heart Center, it is better for untrained individuals to at least attempt to administer chest compressions than to do nothing.