Fact or fiction: survive a heart attack alone

There is an email currently making the rounds which claims to have information about how to survive a heart attack if you’re on your own and are unable to access medical help. It is not a new email – it comes through every few years – and is often called something similar to: How to survive a heart attack on your own.

The email talks about a technique called cough CPR. Cough CPR is a medical technique used in emergency situations where there are no other options available. It involves using deep breaths and coughs to regulate the heart’s rhythm during or directly after a heart attack.

It is possible that, had you been trained in the correct technique and knew exactly what you were doing, cough CPR could save your life in the event of a heart attack. If, however, you attempted cough CPR at the wrong time, because you misjudged what kind of cardiac event you were experiencing, or went about it in the wrong way, you could make the situation worse, possibly leading to death.

There have been cases where physicians were close by, recognised exactly the type of medical emergency taking place and were able to talk patients step-by-step through the coughing, ultimately saving their lives. Without specific training to hit the right rhythms, however, the coughing could turn a mild heart attack into a fatal one.

Cough CPR could, in theory, be effectively taught to patients who were at risk of further heart attacks. But even if it could be effectively taught by medical professionals, it is not possible to learn it from one email. It is important to remember that this technique, if used incorrectly, could turn a mild heart attack into a life-threatening one.

If you believe you are experiencing a heart attack, it is important to get medical attention as soon as possible. Call emergency services, report the problem, and a medical professional will be able to talk you through the steps you should take until help arrives.

For more information on this incorrect email visit the Snopes website

To find out more about heart attacks visit the Better Health website