Coughing As CPR For Heart Attacks? Message Peddles False Information

CPR is performed only during cardiac arrests and not heart attacks and are normally performed by another person on the one who suffered the arrest.

A viral message suggesting people should conduct a cough CPR- coughing vigorously- to protect themselves during a heart attack is misleading as it promotes a technique that is very rarely used only during a cardiac arrest.

Attributed to two doctors, the message which has been viral for several years, discusses methods to perform cough CPR if a person is alone and experiences chest pain and symptoms of a heart attack. Although, BOOM has not been able to independently verify if the doctors shared such a message, the message plays on the knowledge that people are unaware about the difference between cardiac arrests and heart attacks.

BOOM spoke to Dr. Nimit Shah, consultant cardiologist at HN Reliance Hospital and Saifee Hospital, who shared that cough CPR is not a recommended way to deal with a cardiac arrest and CPR is never given during a heart attack.

The long message essentially reads, "6. HOW TO SURVIVE A HEART ATTACK WHEN ALONE? Since many people are alone when they suffer a heart attack without help, the person whose heart is beating improperly and who begins to feel faint, has only about 10 seconds left before losing consciousness.

7. 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.

8. 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 hospital. "

BOOM received this message on its WhatsApp helpline requesting verification.

This message is also viral across Facebook and is being actively shared since 2007.

Also Read:Puneeth Rajkumar:Why Heart Attacks Among The Young Are Becoming Common

Fact Check

The viral message fails to distinguish between cardiac arrests and heart attacks.

Cardiac arrest is when the heart suddenly stops beating, leading to the person to collapse and the heart needs to be revived. In a heart attack, a person's heart does not stop functioning but the blood flow to the heart is obstructed. A heart attack could lead to a cardiac arrest.

Dr. Nimit Shah elaborated, "One does not need CPR for a heart attack. This message of cough CPR for heart attacks is misleading. In case of a heart attack a person should relax and lie down as this could lead to a cardiac arrest."

It is pertinent to understand the difference between heart attacks and cardiac arrests as there is a wider scope for treating a heart attack. A cardiac arrest has to be medically tended to immediately.

Cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) is only to be given if a person complains about breathlessness or falls unconscious suddenly. "If a person is feeling dizzy and uneasy, and falls, a second person can give the necessary resuscitation. If the person is even a little aware of their surroundings, only then taking deep breaths is possible but its very rare that those who undergo cardiac arrests are aware," Dr. Shah added.

During heart attacks, deep breaths and coughing could actually worsen the condition, Dr Shah informed.

The method of taking deep breaths to create an area of pressure on the heart to resuscitate it is called Cough CPR. It has been a controversial area for science since 1999 and has been tagged as misleading many people by many cardiology bodies.

Both the American Heart Association and the British Heart Foundation know of the existence of this phenomenon but do not endorse its use. Furthermore, there is no thorough medical evidence supporting this theory.

Claim :   Coughing vigorously acts as CPR and helps survive a heart attack
Claimed By :  Social media
Fact Check :  False
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