Cough CPR On Facebook

How to survive a heart attack when you are alone?

Many of you will have seen the recent information being shared around Facebook regarding surviving a heart attack by coughing.  This is based on an email that originated around 1999 and was forwarded relentlessly.  A full copy of the most common form of the text is presented below.


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.

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 hospital. Tell as many other people as possible about this. It could save their lives!!

A cardiologist says If everyone who sees this post shares it to 10 people, you can bet that we’ll save at least one life..

Rather than sharing jokes only please contribute by forwarding this info which can save a person’s life..

Unfortunately, the advice given is not the current best advice for dealing with a heart attack.  The “cough CPR” method is not endorsed by any medical establishments or first aid organisations. While there has been limited success with the technique for treating sudden arrhythmia in a hospital setting, it is not advised for treatment of a heart attack, whether you are alone or not.

The Resuscitation Council (UK), who “[…] provide education and reference materials to healthcare professionals and the general public in the most effective methods of resuscitation“, first looked into this in 2002 and their most recent statement can be found here.

The primary aim for first aid treatment of a heart attack is to reduce the strain on the heart.  Coughing will most probably increase the strain on the heart, and the amount of work it is doing.

Correct Heart Attack Treatment

If you suspect you (or someone around you) is having a heart attack then follow these simple steps:

  • Call for help, even if you think you are alone
  • Call 999 immediately
  • Keep calm.  Sit down with your head and shoulders slightly raised (rest your back against a wall or other sturdy object).  Raise your knees so you are sat in the “W” Position (see the link to the BBC site below for an image)
  • Loosen any tight clothing to make it easier to breath
  • If you are not allergic, and haven’t taken any already that day, then chew on some Aspirin (up to 300mg, but do not go panic searching for some.  If it is not at hand, stay seated and relax)
  • Rest, relax and wait for an ambulance to arrive

Further information on Heart Attacks can be found at the British Heart Foundation website and the BBC website

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