AHA vs Red Cross: A Comparison of CPR Training Programs

This article compares various aspects of the CPR training programs offered by the AHA and the Red Cross. We will delve into the course options, training methodologies, instructor qualifications, certification validity, and any additional services or resources provided.


Overview of AHA and Red Cross

The American Heart Association (AHA) and the American Red Cross are two leading organizations renowned for their contributions to CPR and first aid training. With their long-standing commitment to promoting cardiovascular health and emergency response, both organizations have earned widespread recognition and established strong reputations in the field. They have long been recognized for their commitment to educating the public and equipping them with the necessary skills to respond effectively in emergencies like Cardiac Arrest.


The American Heart Association (AHA)

The AHA is a globally recognized nonprofit organization dedicated to fighting heart diseases and strokes. With a history dating back to 1924, the AHA has been at the forefront of cardiovascular research, education, and advocacy. The AHA's CPR training programs are based on the latest scientific evidence and guidelines, ensuring that participants receive the most up-to-date and effective training available. Their certification courses cater to various audiences, including medical professionals, workplace responders, and the general public. The AHA's reputation for excellence in CPR training is bolstered by its extensive research, involvement in setting industry standards, and continuous collaboration with medical experts.


American Red Cross

The American Red Cross, an international humanitarian organization, has a long and illustrious history of providing assistance during crises and offering health-related services. Established in 1881, the Red Cross has become synonymous with disaster response, blood donation, and first aid training. The organization's CPR and first aid training programs have played a vital role in equipping individuals with life-saving skills.

The Red Cross focuses on hands-on practice and real-life simulations to enhance learning outcomes. Their emphasis on practical training ensures that participants gain the necessary confidence and competence to respond effectively in emergency situations. The Red Cross's reputable track record in humanitarian aid further solidifies its standing as a trusted provider of CPR training.

Blood Pressure Category
Systolic (Upper)
Diastolic (Lower)
Health Risks
Less than 120 mm Hg
and Less than 80 mm Hg
Low risk of heart disease or stroke
Maintain healthy lifestyle (diet, exercise, no smoking)
120-129 mm Hg
and Less than 80 mm Hg
Doubled risk of cardiovascular complications
Make lifestyle changes (lose weight if overweight, increase physical activity, limit alcohol)
Hypertension Stage 1
130-139 mm Hg
or 80-89 mm Hg
Increased risk of heart attack, stroke, kidney disease
Lifestyle changes and potentially medication under doctor's guidance
Hypertension Stage 2
140 mm Hg or Higher
or 90 mm Hg or Higher
High risk; can lead to heart failure, vision loss, dementia
Medication required in addition to lifestyle changes as recommended by doctor
Hypertensive Crisis
Higher than 180 mm Hg
nd/or Higher than 120 mm Hg
Immediate danger of life-threatening complications
Seek emergency medical care immediately
Cardiac Arrest
Heart Attack
Sudden loss of heart function, leading to collapse
Blockage in a coronary artery, affecting blood flow to the heart muscle
Interruption of blood flow to the brain, leading to brain damage
Main Cause
Electrical malfunction of the heart
Blockage in coronary arteries
Blockage or rupture of blood vessels in the brain
Circulation Affected
Entire body
Heart muscle
Brain tissue
105Sudden collapse, unconsciousness, no pulse
Chest pain or discomfort, shortness of breath
Sudden numbness or weakness, confusion, trouble speaking or understanding speech/73
Emergency Response
Immediate CPR and defibrillation
Activate emergency medical services, chew aspirin
Activate emergency medical services, FAST assessment (Face, Arms, Speech, Time)
CPR, defibrillation
Thrombolytic therapy, angioplasty, stenting
Thrombolytic therapy, clot retrieval,
Long-term Management
Implantable cardioverter-defibrillator (ICD), medication management
Medication management, lifestyle changes, cardiac rehabilitation
Medication, rehabilitation, lifestyle changes
Dependent on prompt CPR and defibrillation, underlying health conditions
Dependent on extent of heart muscle damage, effectiveness of intervention
Dependent on severity of brain damage, rehabilitation progress
Risk Factors
Previous heart conditions, arrhythmias, electrolyte imbalances
Atherosclerosis, high cholesterol, hypertension, smoking, diabetes
Hypertension, diabetes, smoking, high cholesterol, atrial fibrillation

CPR Training Programs and Courses

Both the American Heart Association (AHA) and the American Red Cross offer CPR training programs aimed at equipping individuals with life-saving skills. While there are some similarities between the two organizations' programs, there are also notable differences. Here's a comparison of the CPR training programs offered by the AHA and the Red Cross:

  • The AHA places a strong emphasis on evidence-based guidelines for CPR and emergency cardiovascular care. Their programs cover topics like adult, child, and infant CPR techniques, AED usage, choking relief, and basic life support skills.
  • The Red Cross programs also cover adult, child, and infant CPR techniques, AED usage, and choking relief. They incorporate hands-on practice and focus on building confidence and readiness to respond in emergency situations.


Teaching Methodologies and Delivery Options

Both the American Heart Association (AHA) and the American Red Cross offer in-person CPR training sessions that include classroom-based instruction and hands-on practice. The AHA conducts lectures, demonstrations, and discussions in their classes, emphasizing evidence-based guidelines and incorporating scenario-based training. The Red Cross focuses on skill-based learning, utilizing interactive instruction, visual aids, and role-playing exercises to engage participants and enhance skill development.

Both organizations also provide online training options and blended learning approaches. The AHA offers online classes through its eLearning platform, where participants learns CPR theory at their own pace and then attend an in-person skills session for hands-on practice and certification. Similarly, the Red Cross offers online training through their Online Training platform, followed by an in-person skills session with an instructor.

These training methods aim to provide convenience and flexibility while ensuring participants gain the necessary knowledge and skills to perform CPR effectively. The choice between the AHA and the Red Cross depends on factors such as personal preferences, course availability, and specific learning needs.


Certification Exams

The CPR certification exams conducted by the American Heart Association (AHA) and the American Red Cross share similarities and differences. Both exams typically involve multiple-choice questions assessing knowledge of CPR techniques and emergency response. AHA exams align with their guidelines and emphasize evidence-based practices, while Red Cross exams align with their training materials.


Certification Validity Period

The typical duration of CPR certifications provided by the American Heart Association (AHA) and the American Red Cross varies based on the specific course and certification level. Here's a general comparison:


American Heart Association (AHA)

  • Basic Life Support (BLS) Certification: AHA's BLS certification, designed for health care professionals, is typically valid for two years. Recertification is required every two years to maintain the certification.
  • Heartsaver CPR/AED Certification: AHA's Heartsaver CPR/AED certification, aimed at non-healthcare providers, is also typically valid for two years. Recertification is required every two years.
  • Advanced Cardiovascular Life Support (ACLS) Certification: AHA's ACLS certification, intended for advanced medical personnel, is generally valid for two years. Recertification is necessary every two years to stay certified.


American Red Cross

  • CPR/AED for Professional Rescuers and Healthcare Providers Certification: The Red Cross CPR/AED for Professional Rescuers and Healthcare Providers certification is typically valid for two years. Renewal is required every two years to maintain the certification.
  • CPR/AED for Community and Workplace Certification: The Red Cross CPR/AED for Community and Workplace certification, targeted at laypersons, is also generally valid for two years. Recertification is necessary every two years.


Acceptance and Recognition

Both AHA-Issued Certification Cards and American Red Cross certifications are widely recognized and accepted by employers, educational institutions, regulatory bodies, and other relevant entities.

AHA certifications, such as BLS and ACLS, are highly valued in the healthcare industry, while Red Cross certifications are widely accepted in various settings, including public safety agencies and workplaces. Educational institutions often recognize both AHA and Red Cross certifications for relevant programs, and regulatory bodies require them for licensure. Professional organizations and associations also acknowledge these certifications. 


Additional Services and Programs

The American Heart Association (AHA) is actively involved in funding and conducting research initiatives aimed at advancing cardiovascular science and improving patient care. Some notable research projects and initiatives undertaken by the AHA include:

  1. Guidelines Development: The AHA plays a key role in developing evidence-based guidelines for CPR, emergency cardiovascular care, and cardiovascular diseases. These guidelines are regularly updated based on the latest research findings and serve as a reference for healthcare professionals worldwide.
  2. Research Grants: The AHA provides research grants and funding opportunities to support innovative research projects focused on cardiovascular diseases, stroke, resuscitation science, and related fields. These grants aim to foster breakthroughs in prevention, diagnosis, treatment, and rehabilitation.
  3. Registries and Databases: The AHA maintains various registries and databases, such as the Get With The Guidelines® program, which collect and analyze data on patient outcomes, treatment patterns, and quality improvement efforts. These resources help researchers gain insights into cardiovascular care practices and contribute to improving patient outcomes.
  4. Scientific Journals and Publications: The AHA publishes several scientific journals, including Circulation, Stroke, and Circulation Research, which disseminate cutting-edge research findings and scientific advancements in cardiovascular medicine and related disciplines.


On the other hand, the American Red Cross places a strong emphasis on disaster response training to prepare individuals for emergency situations and to provide assistance during disasters. Some key aspects of the Red Cross's focus on disaster response training include:

  1. Disaster Preparedness Education: The Red Cross offers various training programs and courses to educate individuals and communities on disaster preparedness. These programs cover topics such as emergency planning, response strategies, evacuation procedures, and first aid skills.
  2. Disaster Response Training Courses: The Red Cross provides specialized training courses focused on disaster response, including Disaster Action Team (DAT) training, Mass Care and Sheltering, and Psychological First Aid. These courses equip individuals with the knowledge and skills needed to support disaster victims and respond effectively during emergencies.
  3. Emergency Response Services: In addition to training, the Red Cross also offers on-the-ground emergency response services during disasters. They provide shelter, food, medical assistance, and emotional support to affected communities, working in collaboration with local authorities and other organizations.
  4. Volunteer Opportunities: The Red Cross provides opportunities for individuals to become trained disaster response volunteers. These volunteers can support disaster relief efforts in various roles, including shelter management, health services, logistics, and community outreach.

The Red Cross's focus on disaster response training is crucial in building community resilience, enabling individuals to effectively respond to and recover from disasters, and providing vital assistance during emergency situations.

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Offer Expires:
Comprehensive CPR Training Across All Ages
Choking response training
Recovery position technique course

Blood Pressure Chart by Age

Age Group
Min Systolic/Diastolic
Normal Range
Max Systolic/Diastolic
1-12 months
Consult pediatrician if outside normal range. Cuff sizing is critical.
1-5 years
High BP in children may indicate underlying condition. Lifestyle factors.
6-13 years
Obesity, family history increase risk. Promote healthy habits early.
14-19 years
Adolescent rise normal. Rule out secondary causes if elevated.
20-24 years
Stressors, medications may impact. Start monitoring if high-normal.
25-29 years
Dietary changes, exercise for elevated readings. Birth control effects.
30-39 years
110/77 - 111/78
122/81 - 123/82
134/85 - 135/86
Monitor closely if readings increasing with age.
40-49 years
112/79 - 115/80
125/83 - 127/84
137/87 - 139/88
Lifestyle changes proven to reduce hypertension risk.
50-64 years
116/81 - 121/83
129/85 - 134/87
142/89 - 147/91
White coat effect common. Home monitoring advised.
65+ years
130+ Systolic Risk
Frailty, medications, conditions factored in management.

Cost Comparison

The costs associated with CPR training programs offered by the American Heart Association (AHA) and the American Red Cross can vary based on the specific course, location, and training center. Here's a general comparison of the costs involved:


American Heart Association (AHA)

The course fees for AHA CPR training programs range from around $50 to $200, depending on the course level and whether it includes additional certifications like First Aid or Bloodborne Pathogens training. The fees for healthcare professional-oriented courses like BLS and ACLS may be higher compared to layperson-oriented courses like Heartsaver CPR/AED.


American Red Cross

The course fees for Red Cross CPR training programs typically range from around $70 to $150, depending on the specific course and any additional certifications included. The fees vary based on the level of training and the location where the training is conducted.


Materials and Manuals

Both the AHA and the Red Cross charge additional fees for training materials, manuals, and resources required for the courses. The cost of these materials can vary, but typically ranges from around $10 to $40. Some courses may include digital or online materials, while others may provide physical manuals or handbooks.


Certification Cards

Both organizations typically provide certification cards upon successful completion of the courses. These cards  have an associated cost, typically ranging from around $5 to $20, depending on the organization and the level of certification.


is American Red Cross Approved by American Heart Association?

No, the American Red Cross (ARC) and the American Heart Association (AHA) are separate and independent organizations. The ARC and the AHA are both recognized and respected providers of CPR and first aid training, but they have distinct programs and certifications.

While their courses may cover similar content, certifications earned from one organization are not automatically recognized or approved by the other. It's important to note that each organization has its own training standards, guidelines, and certification processes. Therefore, if you have specific requirements or preferences for a particular organization's certification, it's recommended to pursue training through that organization directly.

Importance of CPR Training

CPR training is vital for saving lives during cardiac emergencies. Getting certified by reputable organizations like the American Heart Association and the American Red Cross ensures you have the right CPR techniques and follow industry standards. They base their programs on the latest scientific research and guidelines set by organizations like the ILCOR. Being certified by these organizations means you have the knowledge and skills needed to perform CPR effectively using the best practices available.

CPR Certification boosts your confidence, proves your proficiency, and encourages ongoing education to stay updated on CPR protocols. By emphasizing the importance of CPR training and certification, we empower more individuals to become skilled responders, making our communities safer and better prepared for cardiac emergencies.


Other training providers that offer CPR Training aside from AHA and Red Cross

In addition to the American Heart Association (AHA) and the American Red Cross, there are several other CPR certification providers that offer CPR training. Some reputable CPR training providers include:

  • National Safety Council (NSC): The NSC offers CPR and first aid certification focused on workplace safety and community response. They provide learning courses for both healthcare professionals and the general public.
  • American Safety and Health Institute (ASHI): ASHI offers a wide range of CPR and first aid training programs. They provide certifications that are widely accepted and recognized in various industries and workplaces.
  • Emergency Care and Safety Institute (ECSI): ECSI offers CPR and first aid training programs, including specialized courses for healthcare professionals, childcare providers, and workplace safety. Their certifications are recognized by many organizations and institutions.
  • Medic First Aid: Medic First Aid offers CPR, first aid, and emergency response training courses. They provide certifications for both healthcare professionals and laypersons, focusing on practical skills and real-world scenarios.
  • American Training Association for CPR: The American Training Association for CPR offers online CPR and first aid training courses that provide certifications upon completion. They emphasize convenience and accessibility through their online platform.

It's important to research and verify the credibility, accreditation, and acceptance of certifications from any training provider you consider. Ensure that the training provider follows recognized guidelines and meets your specific requirements for certification.