Self Administered CPR! As an absolute last resort when experiencing severe chest pains characteristic of a heart attack... AND starting to pass out, you might be able to remain conscious long enough for help to arrive by giving yourself CPR. Sounds preposterous, but two of my friends who are medical professionals cautiously agree. "If you panic, or are not on the verge of fainting, you could do more damage than good." they warn. However, keep your head, call 911, take two aspirins and sit down to calmly wait for the ambulance. Then, if you start to loose consciousness, try the cough CPR trick: vigorous coughing every couple seconds until no longer feeling faint or until help arrives. What do you have to loose? It could save your life. I found many articles, not all advising the procedure: Take a look at the cautionary Wikipedia article and a more optimistic news article by Emma Ross.

"Dr. Richard O. Cummins, Seattle's director of emergency cardiac care, explains that cough CPR raises the pressure in the chest just enough to maintain some circulation of oxygen-containing blood and help enough get to the brain to maintain consciousness for a prolonged period. But cough CPR should be used only by a person about to lose consciousness, an indication of cardiac arrest, he cautions. It can be dangerous for someone having a heart attack that does not result in cardiac arrest. Such a person should call for help and then sit quietly until help arrives, he says.

In other words, the procedure might be the right thing to attempt or it might be the very thing that would kill the afflicted depending on which sort of cardiac crisis is being experienced. Without a doctor there to judge the situation and, if cough CPR is indicated, to supervise the rhythmic coughing, the procedure is just far too risky for a layman to attempt.

Forget about coughing key to surviving a heart attack is obtaining proper medical assistance within a very limited window of opportunity. Once an acute myocardial infarction (AMI) has been diagnosed, speedy injection of thrombolytic agents to dissolve clots is of the utmost importance the more quickly those drugs are delivered, the better the chances of survival are. It's a race against the clock.

Most patients who present with minor chest pains usually look healthy and show no signs of a heart attack. Electrocardiogram (ECG) results tell the story though, so be sure to insist upon one being performed if you've any doubts at all. Often mild heart attacks are left untreated and undetected because hospital staff mistake a heart attack for something more benign because the presenting symptoms are minor.

Rather than risk killing yourself with cough CPR, those experiencing a heart attack should heed the advice of physicians the world over down a couple of Aspirin as an emergency remedy. Doctors believe that during the early stages of a heart attack, Aspirin which is known to prevent blood platelets from sticking together can prevent a clot from getting bigger. In 1991 Dr. Michael Vance, president of the American Board of Emergency Medicine, recommended that people who think they are having a heart attack should "Call 911, then take an Aspirin."

Oh, and it probably makes a great deal of sense to chew the Aspirin before swallowing. The sooner it is dispersed by the stomach, the sooner it gets to where it is needed. During a heart attack, waiting for the enteric coating surrounding the pill to break down naturally could be a mistake.

In 1993 The American Heart Association began recommending a 325 mg Aspirin at the onset of chest pain or other symptoms of a severe heart attack. That bit of advice is going unheeded though a follow-up report published in 1997 shows as many as 10,000 American lives a year could be saved if more people who think they're having a heart attack took an aspirin at the start of chest pains. "

Reference photo: author
 August 2002

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