The following internet advice, which may have a subject title such as above, could just get you killed.
Like any other middle aged, balding, over-weight chap my mother still worries about me. So when her friend sent this to her and many other people, she forwarded it to me first:-
Just in case!!!
Let’s say it’s 6.15pm and you’re going home (alone of course), after an unusually hard day on the job.
You’re really tired, upset and frustrated.
Suddenly you start experiencing severe pain in your chest that starts to drag 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. You have been trained in CPR, but the guy that taught the course did not 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, 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. Not sure I can cope with this – takes me more than 2 seconds to draw breath these days.
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 gets this mail sends it to 10 people you can bet that we’ll save at least one life.
Rather than sending jokes (not sure I agree with this part – keep on sending them they’re probably stopping me getting a heart attack) please contribute by forwarding this mail which can save a person’s life….If this message comes around you ……more than once…..please don’t get irritated…..U need to be happy that you are being reminded of how to tackle….Heart attacks….AGAIN…
It sounds very plausible and if true would be worth spreading to as many people as possible. But I told my mother not to send it on to anyone until I checked it out. I went straight to the British Heart Foundation website and other sources which revealed that this is dangerous advice and to all intents and purposes not true (except in the most extremely limited of contexts):-
Cough cardiopulmonary resuscitation
What is “˜cough cardiopulmonary resuscitation’?
There is a theory circulating from an uncertain source that you can stop yourself from having a heart attack by practising a technique called “˜cough cardiopulmonary resuscitation’ (sometimes called “˜cough CPR’ or “˜self CPR’). It suggests that coughing vigorously when you think you may be having a heart attack can return the electrical activity of the heart to normal.
The British Heart Foundation (BHF) is not aware of any evidence to support this theory and “˜cough CPR’ should never be used as a first aid technique.
What is the source of the “˜cough CPR’ technique?
You may have heard about “˜cough CPR’ or “˜self CPR’ from an email about an article called How to survive a heart attack when alone. According to the email, the article was originally published in a newsletter from Rochester General Hospital in the USA. However, the hospital claims that they have no knowledge of the source. The email says that vigorous coughing when experiencing sudden, severe chest pain (the classic symptoms of a heart attack) may help to restore or improve the circulation of blood, by maintaining the heart’s normal electrical activity. The advice is very loosely based on reports of people who have used coughing to maintain some sort of cardiac output during cardiac arrest. There is no evidence to support this.
So what should I do if I think I am having a heart attack?
If you experience heaviness or tightness in the chest, accompanied by sweating, sickness, or feeling faint or breathless, you may be having a heart attack. You will need emergency treatment to stabilise your condition, so you need to call 999 for an ambulance immediately.
For more information
For more information on what to do if you think you are having a heart attack.
Resuscitation UK Council
So remember, always verify internet advice if it is not directly from a trusted source.
Please note that Sophos does not certify any medical advice given above.