Difference between ACLS and BLS | Which One to Choose?
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ACLS vs BLS: Understanding the Differences

Humans may think of themselves as superior solid beings. But, a medical emergency unravels the delicateness of the body. The medical fraternity brings forward many life-saving techniques to help patients in need. In comparison, most people know about first aid. Terms like Advanced Cardiac Life support and Basic Life Support are still new. It could get tricky if you need to compare the benefits of ACLS vs BLS. But, this article promises to clear this doubt for you.

ACLS Brief Introduction

ACLS is a group of procedures that help revive a patient suffering from trauma. Your body comes with a limited amount of shock-absorbing capacity. If the mental or physical shock exceeds this threshold, it goes into trauma. It could lead to cardiac arrest. Many other first-aid treatments fall under the ACLS umbrella, as given below:

  • Chest Defibrillation
  • IV medication
  • Cardiopulmonary resuscitation
  • Arterial line insertions
  • Airway stabilization methods
  • Pacing
  • Oxygen therapy

The injuries treated by ACLS are more internal and life-threatening than BLS. You may need ACLS when the patient slips into a coma. Even terminal illness like liver failure needs immediate help. In this case, people certified in ACLS can help stabilize a patient faster. Many courses provide detailed training on this subject. 

BLS Brief Introduction

Basic Life Saving skills include first aid protocols and products. BLS relies a lot on the individual’s observation skills. A heart attack could linger for minutes before prominent symptoms show. In such cases, the individual certified in BLS courses could help the patient beforehand. Some skills that fall under this category include:

  • Use of the AED device on a cardiac arrest patient.
  • Proper technique for administering CPR.
  • Use of the Heimlich maneuver to help a choking patient.
  • BLS is a must for sports teachers and gym workers. Even students must take an introductory course in BLS. It can help you save the lives of your loved ones. 
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Difference between ACLS and BLS

Many people argue that ACLS and BLS skills do not differ much. But, such is not the case. There are some glaring differences between both these certifications. The below points will help you understand the fundamental difference between these courses.

  1. Involvement of Pharmaceuticals: BLS is an introductory course. Here you cannot administer medicine to the patient. People certified in ACLS gain knowledge about various life-saving drugs. They can give these when required and even purchase them.
  2. Patient Profile: BLS skills find use outside of a hospital environment. These skills work as the first line of health restoration for a patient. Common ailments that need BLS include cardiac arrest or suffocation due to drowning. A patient admitted to a hospital may require ACLS. 
  3. Tools: BLS skills work around the use of hands for administering CPR. An AED is the only mechanical unit used by people giving BLS. Experts at ACLS need to know about ECG machines, intubation material, and injectables.

Prerequisite: Anyone interested in learning life-saving skills can take up BLS certification. It does not need any prior medical knowledge. But, only doctors, nurses, and medical practitioners can take an ACLS course.  

ACLS vs BLS Certification: Which One to Choose?

Do I need a BLS if I already have an ACLS? How do I pick one over the other? If you have these questions lingering in your mind, worry not. The American CPR Care Association has the answers for you. We have listed a few points that may help you to decide on the right course.

Choose ACLS if:

  • Healthcare professionals always wish to excel in their careers. For this, they should go for the ACLS certification. This course will give your skillset a much-needed boost. 
  • You plan on working as a nurse and need to crack an interview. Knowing ACLS could help you shine above your competition.

Choose BLS if:

  • You wish to become a good citizen and help someone in need during an emergency.
  • Learn BLS if you are a parent and want to keep your children safe. 
  • The work you do involves looking after older people.
  • You deal with athletes, as anyone could experience a sudden heart attack.


The ACLS vs BLS debate is an ongoing discussion. Both these courses give knowledge of life-saving skills. We hope this article helps you with a basic understanding of the two courses. The American CPR Care Association brings you accurately designed curriculums for these courses. We allow you to master difficult chapters as well. Our website discusses everything nurses need to know about ACLS & BLS. You can register on our website today and unlock some early bird discounts for groups of 5 or more.


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