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Heart Attack Survival When Alone

From Mike:

I came upon this and do not know if it really works.

Please email me with your input. I will add it to this page.

__________________________________________________

"Let's say it's 5:17 p.m. and you're driving home, (alone of course)  after an unusually hard day on the job. Not only was the work load extraordinarily heavy, you also had a disagreement with your boss, and no matter how hard you tried, he just wouldn't see your side of the situation. You're really upset and the more you think about it the more up tight you become."

"All of a sudden you start experiencing a severe pain in your chest that starts to radiate out into your arm and up into your jaw. You are only about five miles from the hospital nearest your home, unfortunately you don't know if you'll be able to make it that far."

"What can you do? You've been trained in CPR but the guy that taught the course neglected to tell you how to perform it on yourself."

HOW TO SURVIVE A HEART ATTACK WHEN ALONE

Without help the person whose heart stops beating properly and who begins to feel faint, has only about 10 seconds left before losing consciousness.
However, these victims can help themselves by coughing repeatedly and very vigorously. A deep breath should be taken before each cough, and the cough must be deep and prolonged, as when producing sputum from deep inside the chest. A breath and a cough must be repeated about every two seconds without let up until help arrives, or until the heart is felt to be beating normally again.

Deep breaths get oxygen into the lungs and coughing movements squeeze the heart and keep the blood circulating. The squeezing pressure on the heart also helps it regain normal rhythm. In this way, heart attack victims can get to a phone and, between breaths, call for help.

From C.H., former hospital nurse.

Mike's responses in SOLID CAPS.

Yes, Mike, this coughing exercise *could* work to stop *some* heart attacks.

That is the disclaimer. Forceful coughing, sneezing, grunting, and the like, put back-pressure on the diaphragm.

This can do a few things to help. It can stop vagus nerve from spasming, and therefore could stop hiccups, as well. The backpressure can slow down tachycardia/irregular heart rhythm and reset the beat, because the repeated hard backpressure gets to the nodes that govern the heartbeat.

THAT HELPS CLARIFY WHY OUR BREATHING EXERCISE #1 HAS ELIMINATED UNCONTROLLED HYPERTENSION, AMONG OTHER THINGS.

The deep breathing combined with hard coughing can help oxygen levels in the blood to rise a bit, helping get more oxygen to starved heart muscles that can still work.

I UNDERSTAND HEARTS GO INTO SPASM DUE TO LACK OF OXYGEN.

Many people tend to get irregular heartbeats, anyway...there are several types, and these can respond to this activity, as well.

USING THE EXERCISE #2 MAY WORK TO STABILIZE HEART BEATS WITH A STABILITY THAT LASTS LONGER THAN JUST TRYING THE EXERCISE WHEN TROUBLE BEGINS.  BUT THIS ALL MAY WELL BE ALMOST EQUALLY ABOUT NERVOUS SYSTEM BALANCE AS WELL AS OXYGEN LEVELS.  I SUSPECT BALANCE OF O2 DEPENDS ON THE O2 LEVELS NEEDED BY THE INDIVIDUAL AND THOSE REQUIREMENTS VARY SOMEWHAT FROM PERSON TO PERSON.  I ALSO HAVE SEEN VERY SICK PEOPLE WITH VERY HIGH BLOOD O2 LEVELS AND AT LEAST OUTWARDLY  HEALTHY ONES WITH LOW 90 PERCENTILES.

Breathing exercises that work to even-out breathing THERE'S TWO GOOD WORDS," EVEN OUT" OR WHAT I CALL "BALANCE", and maintain good oxygen levels, are most conducive to decent state of health, and would tend to be a technique that can ward off more frequent episodes of chest pain and arrhythmias. But, it needs to be used with relaxation techniques and good nutrition, among other things. The awareness that one can do things to help oneself feels good--it is empowering.

In the best world, everyone could be educated about the most commonly used medicines for their situation, and educated about the alternatives (this includes the "do nothing" scenario, without scare tactics), so they could make a choice for themselves.

And, they would have people who are supportive of their choices!

But, it needs to be tempered with common sense (like, if the problem gets out of hand, get to an emergency center or your Dr., to at least get assessed. If a heart attack event is too massive, it might not help enough (ie., too much area of heart muscle being starved for oxygen).

BUT IF YOU ARE ALONE YOU HAVE NO OTHER CHOICE

If there is no choice, I think this is the best thing to do, until you can get assessed for what else might help. In the world we live in, most people do not know what is best to do, are not familiar with choices they can make, and are scared by the event....which can make it worse. So, controlling one's breathing is very helpful. It is good to have something like this that they can try to do, to help themselves when needed!

If there is a severe nutrient imbalance (ie., potassium), it might not work too well. When a body is sick, some key nutrients move into different compartments. Potassium and magnesium can move into different areas where they are not much help. Or, potassium can be deficient because of taking diuretics and not compensating for that loss. The "RDA" levels of vitamins and minerals are levels suitable for just barely keeping a body alive--not necessarily at optimal health...and certainly does not speak to the issue of persons with exposures to environmental things, or ongoing illness, who need more or less of some nutrients. Some levels of nutrients are arbitrarily guessed at by looking at food contents. Our modern diets can potentially be so much better than our ancestor's of 100 years ago....BUT, most people are chowing down on junk food that is high in sugar, salt, and fat (not to mention all the sugar and fat substitutes and additives) and so processed that Mother Nature wouldn't recognize it! These things throw the body out of balance, cause the body to crave foods, and predispose to disease.

A RECOMMENDATION FOR PROPER VITAMIN SUPPLEMENTATION and OXYGENIZED WATER 

It is important that people doing the emergency breathing exercise, should know to continue the exercise as long as they feel like their heart is either irregular of beat, or the pain is continuing, and seek medical help right away, as well! They need to get an assessment of what is happening, to best know how to proceed. I know there are fantastic facilities out there. But, there are also some pretty sloppy places, too.

REMINDS ME OF THE GEORGE C SCOTT MOVIE CALLED HOSPITAL.

Humans are as they are, and can make mistakes, and there are many getting made in the name of the almighty dollar, because staffing is kept too close to the bone, or the Dr. looks at the chart and sees a history of, say, Fibromyalgia or migraines, and so relates what the person comes in with to that, and it might not be appropriate. I have seen people not get correct diagnosis because the Dr. couldn't speak English very well, and/or did not listen to the patient or relative with them, well.

I AGREE BUT THEN WHAT? LET THEM MEDICATE THEM? THAT IS SCARY. AFTER THE EMERGENCY IS OVER ALTERNATIVE MODALITIES MAY WORK WONDERS. SEE books by Drs. Steven Sinatra and Dean Ornish about HEART HEALTH.

I firmly believe in alternative medicine. But not blindly--not any more for that than for regular medicine. Just as with every other line of study, half of all Dr.s graduate in the bottom half of their class. They are human, and can be very over stressed, and can make glaring errors. Most errors are small, and do not get noticed, as they do not cause much problem....these can be corrected easily. By the way, I respect what Dr. Ornish has been doing...that very low-fat, mostly vegetarian diet that has been used to reverse heart disease seems to be a very good thing....it takes much will power to do it; a will to do it.

The other way to get more oxygen into the blood is "pursed-lip" breathing.

THIS IS ALSO CALLED MOUNTAIN BREATHING.

You pucker up and exhale through puckered lips, which causes the exhaled air to back up---it stays in the lungs a bit longer, allowing more of the oxygen in it to be extracted from it.

It can be a more relaxed form of breathing, serving also to calm someone down who is in panic due to the event.

PURSED LIP BREATHING CAN BE HELPFUL BUT I BELIEVE IT IS AN EMERGENCY MEASURE THAT GETS TREATED AS A PERMANENT SOLUTION. ANOTHER WAY TO EASILY INCREASE OXYGEN CONTENT IS TO GET OUR BREATHING DEVELOPMENT PROGRAM AND ADDITIONAL RECORDED BREATHING EXERCISE

 THERE IS AN ANCIENT AXIOM THAT STATES "TO CONTROL YOUR BREATHING IS TO CONTROL YOUR LIFE".

That is a good way to describe it!

Sometimes a person in panic/pain needs someone to coach them to slow down a bit so not to hyperventilate . Having a support person there for you in a time like that is usually a great help, even if all they can do is put a cool cloth on your brow...though it is better if they can stand up and speak well for you when you might not be able to, to the Dr. in charge, about decisions that are needed.

 AMEN TO THAT.

(If you do not need more oxygen, this exercise can cause light-headedness from too much oxygen in the blood!).

WORKING WITH CATHARTIC BREATHWORK, PULSE OXYMETERS AND HYPERBARIC CHAMBERS HAS CONVINCED ME THAT OXYGEN IS NOT AS MUCH THE PRIMARY ISSUE AS MANY ARE LEAD TO BELIEVE. THE BODY CAN GET SUPERSATURATED WITH OXYGEN AND ZERO - REPEAT NONE- LIGHTHEADEDNESS OCCURS. IT IS MOST OFTEN A COMBINATION OF CONDITIONING AND THE WAY THE PERSON BREATHS; THE WAY THE NERVOUS SYSTEM IS ACTIVATED THAT CAUSES LIGHTEDHEADENESS. ONCE THE O2 GETS UP TO LIFE SUPPORTING LEVEL AND PROBABLY EVEN BEFORE I BELIEVE THE WAY THEY BREATHE IS SENIOR TO THE OXYGEN ISSUE

Oxygen levels in people with an overt illness are most likely not so great. On the other hand, I have used an oxymeter on an old lady with severe illness (lungs shot from years of smoking....emphysema) who's readings were often as high as 97-98% ! (This was as good as mine when running up and down the long hall at work--I was so surprised-- I took mine to compare). This woman's body had learned to compensate over the years--to function with less. That old lady couldn't get up and walk much and keep those levels, but at rest, it worked. Some folks with more sudden onset turn blue at 92%, while hers caused her to get cyanotic (blue) at something like 80% saturation.

INTERESTING VARIATION OF PERCENTAGES

I ACCOMPANIED A PRE LUNG REDUCTION SURGERY CANDIDATE TO THE PULMONARY REHAB UNIT OF A LEADING WEST COAST HOSPITAL.  THEY TREADMILLED AND BICYCLED HIM FOR 45 MINUTES AND GOT HIS BLOOD OXYGEN UP FROM 94 TO 96 PERCENT.  THE POSTURING ON BOTH THE CYCLE AND TREADMILL WERE GUARANTEED TO MAKE HIM BREATHE HARDER AND LESS EFFICIENCY AND WHEN I QUERIED THE ATTENDING NURSE WAS TOLD THAT " IT IS HARD TO MAKE THEM DO IT RIGHT". RIGHT AFTER THIS HE STILL COULDN'T WALK FIFTY FEET WITHOUT STOPPING TO GET SOME MORE BREATH.  I TOOK HIM BACK TO HIS HOME AND WORKED WITH HIM FOR AN HOUR AND LEFT HIM PINKED CHEEKED AND SMILING.

THERE IS AN OXYGEN COST OF BREATHING. COPD VICTIMS INCLUDING THOSE WITH ASTHMA, EMPHYSEMA BRONCHITIS WORK HARDER, OR VERY HARD, TO GET WHAT OXYGEN THEY CAN AND THE EFFORT USES UP EXCESSIVE OXYGEN AND THEY BREATHE MORE AND INCORRECTLY TRYING TO COMPENSATE WHICH OF COURSE CAN SIMPLY WORSEN THE TENSIONS AND CONSTRICTIONS OF BREATHING AND BREATHING COORDINATION. PRACTICE MAKES PERMANENT NOT PERFECT AND IMPROPER BODY POSITIONING CAN REDUCE OPTIMAL BREATHING TO BELOW AVERAGE RESPIRATION AND  MARGINAL BREATHE-ABILITY TO SUB SURVIVAL LEVELS. THE STRESS FACTORS AND BIOCHEMICAL COMPROMISES ARE AWESOME.

Oxygen levels need to be kept up, consistently over time, to do best for the body. If someone does not work on this over their lifetime, it is harder to catch up after illness has got a foot-hold.

Panicking can cause people's breathing pattern to get rapid and shallow, which does not allow good O2 exchange. The blood vessels in the limbs constrict, to get more blood to the core (heart and lungs), and the tissues get starved....so people get more muscle cramps, as well. Every part of the body depends on the rest to function well together...if some don't work, the rest suffer, as well. The body is truly amazing at compensating for deficits....but it can only go so far.

I got this breathing info during nursing school. Also heard it at a massage school I went to.

MANY MASSAGE SCHOOLS ADDRESS BREATHING. NURSES, CHIROPRACTORS, AND PHYSICAL THERAPISTS AS WELL AND THEY RESPECT IT BUT KNOW TOO LITTLE ABOUT HOW TO INFLUENCE IT QUICKLY AND DIRECTLY WITHOUT DRUGS OR SURGERY. THIS IS ONE AREA  I FEEL MY ADVANCED KNOWLEDGE OF BREATHING TEACHINGS WILL MAKE A SIGNIFICANT CONTRIBUTION.

There are also acupuncture points on the hands that can be stimulated by biting on them with the points of the molars or using a fingernail--do not break the skin, only make a sharp little pain at those points, to curb arrhythmia's and onset of heart attack. And always, seek medical help right away!

I AGREE BUT JUST WHAT KIND OF MEDICAL HELP?

If a person thinks they are having a heart attack, getting to an emergency room or Dr. office for assessment, at the very least, is important. It might not be a heart attack (a relief of fear). But if it is, they are in a position to at least get supportive care. This means that it is good to be educated about one's choices, and be able to tell the Dr. what you chose to do...or have a support person who will speak for you.

However, I have not actually been present first hand for someone having a heart attack and doing it, only heard it second hand

WE NEED FIRST HAND EXPERIENCES OF THE COUGHING TECHNIQUES AND OTHERS LIKE IT.

Yes. I agree. I would like to hear first-hand from people who have used breathing exercises to help save themselves from a heart attack.

But, think about it...Lamaze classes teach women to use breathing to control pain and work with contractions during labor.

I HAVE BEEN TOLD THAT I TEACH TECHNIQUES THAT ARE EQUAL TO OR SUPERIOR TO LAMAZE. THEY STEM FROM CAROLA SPEAD'S WORK.

Good athletes know that without correct breathing, they cannot do their sports very well. People can be taught to use breathing to control pain, to a certain extent, and anxiety, panic, and other things.

"GOOD" ATHLETES CAN DIE FROM SPORTS INDUCED ASTHMA.

I always put in the advice to "seek appropriate medical care".

Not because I don't trust alternatives to work, but because it would be very irresponsible not to do so, and might make people think I am trying to practice medicine without a license, if I did not tell them to seek appropriate care.

AH, THAT "APPROPRIATE" WORD.  MY FRIENDS AT THE HEALTH MEDICINE FORUM IN WALNUT CREEK CALIFORNIA ARE FAST WORKING ON REDEFINING "APPROPRIATE".  

After all....that exercise, or the herbs or nutrients, might not be adequate or appropriate for a person at a given time. Common sense must be used, and too often, people forget this.

I am just a nurse,

FLORENCE NIGHTINGALE WAS "JUST A NURSE" AS WELL.

not a Dr.. I encourage people to learn things that can help them, to empower themselves, to be accountable for their choices (sometimes that is painful!). I have spent much time sifting through data an listening to patients.

There are so many studies that have been around for decades, that have not been acknowledged.

More studies have been done, that completely ignore that it has been done before, or that need to get acquainted with some other studies that have been done, in order to be more complete.

There is more data out there than any one person can ever grasp!

I do the best I can to give out information people can use, and encourage them to ask questions and seek more information that is pertinent to themselves.

If I do not know, I try to find out from a decent source, or direct the person to where they might better find it.

If someone thinks they are having a heart attack, or are having arrhythmia's, they should get the situation assessed at the ER, or an urgent care clinic, or their Dr's office, and should not dawdle.

But they can do some things for themselves, on the way, if they have the knowledge to do them! (and the common sense to know when it is not enough, or not appropriate!)

I can't tell them exactly what treatment they should get in the ER or clinic....they will likely get lab tests and an ECG done for assessment, and perhaps other tests. If it is very serious, they may get medications administered.

Any time a muscle is not getting adequate oxygen to do it's job, something has to be done to fix that. It is a strange twist, that a great many of the treatments still being done, have been continued based on anecdotal information. These were incorporated into regular medicine as this became formalized, because people at large were using them, and were not going to stop...and they were getting relief by using them. But, there was snake oil then, and there is certainly snake-oil out there now....live long enough, and you get to see things make regular return showings on the market! I agree--I would like to hear first hand, from persons who actually did this breathing to stave-off a heart attack.

COULD NOT AGREE MORE.

Breathing exercises are the quickest, cheapest, "do-it-yersef" thing you can try.

It can do no harm to try it! (THE COUGHING TECHNIQUE) (unless one neglects to get appropriate medical help in a timely fashion--like getting to a Dr. to get assessed for whether further treatment and what kind, is needed).

Remember that oath Dr's take, that starts out "first do no harm"? Often, that is forgotten.

Breathing is compromised SO often, when someone is sick or injured.

I have seen this very often while working in hospitals. And have worked with patients to try to get them to pay attention to their breathing depth and patterns. What I have found, is, that while in hospitals, that is pretty much ignored in favor of throwing more medications at whatever is wrong.

It was only while working in an office doing alternative medicine, that I had any chance to work with people on their breathing patterns relative to them helping alleviate how they were feeling.

THAT IS ANOTHER THING WE FOCUS ON AT OUR TRAINING CENTER

People are frequently in denial about their breathing, or, have been in a dysfunctional pattern so long they need more than a few lessons to correct it, as they do not work on it much alone. they need much "hand-holding" and encouragement.

I WOULD ADD TRAINING, SPECIAL TECHNIQUES, ERGONOMICS, NUTRITION, AND VERY SPECIFIC SELF SENSING. THIS IS WHERE OUR SCHOOL, SELF HELP MANUAL, PHONE CONSULTATIONS AND RECORDED BREATHING EXERCISES BECOME VALUABLE.

Bottom line is, the person really has to want to work on changing what is out of balance, or it isn't gonna happen!

SOME KEY FACTORS CAN BE DRAMATICALLY IMPROVED WITHOUT THEIR ACTIVE COOPERATION OR LET US SAY STRICTLY FROM A PASSIVE STANDPOINT. THIS IS GREAT INFORMATION. YOU ARE INSPIRING MANY TO TAKE RESPONSIBILITY FOR THEIR HEALTH AND WELL BEING. THIS BEGINS WITH THEIR DIET, EXERCISE AND THE WAY THEY BREATHE.

Thank you. I try!

Yes. I do assess breathing--for patients and any other people it applies to!

It will often give away what is going on with a person who says "I'm fine", or "Nothing".

(rather like a low-tech lie detector) It is part of reading body language.

I tend to favor things people can do for themselves, that do not cost them, and require little or no "baggage", things they can do if they have no other resources at the time.

PEOPLE TRUST THE MEDICAL DOCTOR TOO MUCH AND LOOK FOR THE QUICK FIX FROM A SHOT OR PILL. THEIR SELF DETERMINISM IS STRIPPED FROM THEM AND THIS IS ONE REASON THEY ARE SO HARD TO MOTIVATE. WHAT DO YOU THINK ABOUT THAT?

Yes. I tend to agree that people give away their autonomy to someone else--many still want a loving "parent" to take charge, and "fix it" for them. And always in a hurry!

So many people are deficient in self esteem, deficient in love for themselves....self determination is stripped from people in childhood too often and too much.

The other problem is, when people take the attitude that they themselves are the expert in their work, let someone else be expert with healing the body--these people totally relinquish responsibility sometimes!

ALSO, I SUSPECT THAT YOU MIGHT AGREE THAT EXCESSIVE MEDICATION IS "BAGGAGE" AS WELL. BAGGAGE THAT CAN KILL. Prescription Drugs. BUT SOME CAN BE QUITE HELPFUL, EVEN LIFE SAVING. I BELIEVE THE MEDICATING WORLD USES DRUG INTERVENTION WAY TOO OFTEN AND TOO LONG.

But I do not "throw the baby out with the bathwater"--there are very appropriate times to use regular medicine. And there are many times that patients are over medicated. People want things to get better, faster. If more pills are thrown at it, then they are "doing something" about it. Trouble is, too many Dr.s do not assess what the combinations of drugs are doing. Too few are willing to take some of the meds away, and wait and see how the person does with less, or different. There needs to be more education...medical personnel are swamped with so many pharmaceuticals. And they also get cocky about patients who say they are allergic to things....and so give them anyway, figuring that the patient is exaggerating! And then, there are the ones who with-hold things like appropriate pain medication, because they fear someone will get addicted (never mind their case warrants it).

I AGREE. AND FOR ME HOSPITAL EMERGENCY ROOMS AND APPROPRIATE SURGERIES AND EXPERIENCED NURSING IN MANY HOSPITALS ARE STATE OF THE ART OR AT LEAST STAFFED WITH SOME VERY BRIGHT AND TOTALLY DEDICATED MEDICAL PROFESSIONALS. I HOPE I AM NEAR ONE IF NEED BE. I BELIEVE THAT THE NURSES HOWEVER ARE OVERWORKED AND UNDERSTAFFED AND BARE THE BRUNT OF MUCH OF THE STRESS.

My stress levels have actually dropped pretty well, as I quit hospital nursing...in fact, I am taking a complete break from nursing.... now I can cope better with the other items that need caring for!

Staffing levels at most hospitals are bordering on unsafe, if not actually unsafe.

I do not feel it is prudent to make Dr's go into massive sleep deprivation for Residency training.

I do not feel it is prudent to have rotating shifts. The stress levels are totally denied, or are put into abstract discussion (it exists, but it is somewhere and someone else, not us, because we are talking about it intelligently)...and no one does much to really alleviate it...not what is really called for (more staff). Rather like all the studies that have shown rotating shifts are detrimental to people's mental and physical health....yet the VA hospitals, Shell oil refineries, and such like, all put staff on rotating shifts, because it is economically prudent for the company--and all of them say it is "to let all the personnel have a crack at each shift, so they don't feel singled out" --Ha!!! (Next time a refinery has an explosion, remember this--Shell oil in Martinez, CA, has had some doozies, about each year....as well as the other chemical companies nearby them...all on rotating shifts...)

SO THE BOTTOM LINE SO FAR IS TO...

If someone thinks they are having a heart attack, or are having arrhythmia's, they should get the situation assessed at the ER, or an urgent care clinic, or their Dr's office, and should not dawdle.

THIS WILL HOPEFULLY GIVE ONE  THE WAKEUP CALL THAT INSPIRES ONE TO TAKE MORE PERSONAL RESPONSIBILITY FOR HIS OR HER HEART LUNG HEALTH.

C.H., THANK YOU SO MUCH FOR YOUR WILLINGNESS TO SHARE WITH MY READERS

BLESSINGS,

MIKE.

I can't help but notice that many versions of the suggested "self-treatment" mentions that you lose consciousness within ten seconds. So that means that in a reduced oxygen, stressful situation, you have ten seconds to

1. Figure out you are having a heart attack.

2. Remember this treatment and how to do it.

3. Do it.

Not good odds. An ounce of prevention is worth ......

The bottom line is that according to a leading Russian microbiologist V Frolov, focused PROPER breathing before going to bed is the best remedy to prevent miocardial infarction and stroke.


archive of legends & netlore
Cough to Save Your Life?

Posted: 06/30/99  (Updated: 03/01/00)

Please note that the following widely-forwarded email message contains misleading medical information:

This one is serious...

Let's say it's 4:17 p.m. and you're driving home, (alone of course) after an unusually hard day on the job. Not only was the work load extraordinarily heavy, you also had a disagreement with your boss, and no matter how hard you tried he just wouldn't see your side of the situation. You're really upset and the more you think about it the more up tight you become.

All of a sudden you start experiencing severe pain in your chest that starts to radiate out into your arm and up into your jaw. You are only about five miles from the hospital nearest you home, unfortunately you don't know if you'll be able to make it that far.

What can you do? You've been trained in CPR but the guy that taught the course neglected to tell you how to perform it on yourself.

HOW TO SURVIVE A HEART ATTACK WHEN ALONE

Since many people are alone when they suffer a heart attack, this article seemed in order.) Without help the person whose heart stops beating properly and who begins to feel Faint, has only about 10 seconds left before losing consciousness. However, these victims can help themselves by coughing repeatedly and very vigorously. A deep breath should be taken before each cough, and the cough must be deep and prolonged, as when producing sputum from deep inside the chest. A breath and a cough must be repeated about every two seconds without let up until help arrives, or until the heart is felt to be beating normally again. Deep breaths get oxygen into the lungs and coughing movements squeeze the heart and keep the blood circulating.

The squeezing pressure on the heart also helps it regain normal rhythm. In this way, heart attack victims can get to a phone and, between breaths, call for help.

Tell as many other people as possible about this, it could save their lives!

from Health Cares, Rochester General Hospital via Chapter 240's newsletter AND THE BEAT GOES ON... (reprint from The Mended Hearts, Inc. publication, Heart Response)

Comments:  This message gives the impression that the technique described has the endorsement of Rochester General Hospital and Mended Hearts, a heart attack victims' support group. Although the text was published in a Mended Hearts newsletter, the organization has since retracted it. Rochester General had no part in the creation or dissemination of the message.

According to the best information I can find, "cough CPR" is a real procedure occasionally used in emergency situations under professional supervision. But it is not taught in standard CPR courses, nor is it typically recommended as a "life-saving" measure for people who experience a heart attack when alone.

One doctor I contacted a heart specialist had never even heard of it.

Other doctors are familiar with the procedure but say it can only be effective in very specific instances. Dr. Stephen Bohan of Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston explained in the Washington Post (Feb. 15, 2000) that in certain instances where a patient has abnormal heart rhythms, coughing can help restore them to normal. But most heart attacks, he said, are not of this type. Bohan told the Post the best thing a heart attack victim can do is take an aspirin (which helps dissolve blood clots) and call 911.

This is a case where a nugget of truth has apparently been misunderstood and misrepresented to the public, though not intentionally. A chapter of Mended Hearts published it without proper research. It was then reprinted by other chapters and eventually found its way into email form.

Darla Bonham, the organization's executive director, has since issued a statement which reads, in part:

I've received email from people all across the country wanting to know if it is a valid medically approved procedure. I contacted a scientist on staff with the American Heart Association Emergency Cardiac Care division, and he was able to track a possible source of the information. The information comes from a professional textbook on emergency cardiac care. This procedure is also known as "cough CPR" and is used in emergency situations by professional staff.  The American Heart Association does not recommend that the public use this method in a situation where there is no medical supervision.

As with all medical rumors, the most prudent course of action is to verify the information with your own doctor or other medical professional before acting upon it or sharing it with others.

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USA Toll-Free Phone: 866 MY INHALE (866.694.6425)  International Phone:
1 704.597.6775  Fax: 704.597.3927

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The breathing improvement techniques, practices and products outlined in this publication are extremely gentle, and should, if carried out as described, be beneficial
to your overall physical and psychological health. If you have any serious medical or psychological problem, however, such as heart disease, high blood pressure,
cancer, mental illness, or recent abdominal or chest surgery, you should consult your health professional before undertaking these practices.

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