James S. Huggins' Refrigerator Door: Click here to go to my Home Page. cough heart attack alone save life urban legend; can caughing save your llife or is it just another dangerous urban legend; qwert
How to Stop a Heart Attack by Yourself - - - Photo of an heart medical poster - - - original photo from Microsoft Office Design Gallery Live

How to Stop a Heart Attack by Yourself

Can Coughing Save Your Life?

Or Is This Just Another Dangerous Urban Legend?


There is an email being forwarded with very misleading medical information:

This one is serious...

Let's say it's 4:17 p.m. and you're driving home, (alone of course) after an unusually hard day on the job. Not only was the work load extraordinarily heavy, you also had a disagreement with your boss, and no matter how hard you tried he just wouldn't see your side of the situation. You're really upset and the more you think about it the more up tight you become.

All of a sudden you start experiencing severe pain in your chest that starts to radiate out into your arm and up into your jaw. You are only about five miles from the hospital nearest you home, unfortunately you don't know if you'll be able to make it that far.

What can you do? You've been trained in CPR but the guy that taught the course neglected to 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, this article seemed in order.) Without help the person whose heart stops beating properly 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 phone and, between breaths, call for help.

Tell as many other people as possible about this, it could save their lives!

from Health Cares, Rochester General Hospital via Chapter 240's newsletter And The Beat Goes On... (reprint from The Mended Hearts, Inc. publication, Heart Response)

This message is very dangerous. It gives the impression that the technique was endorsed by Rochester General Hospital and Mended Hearts, a heart attack victims' support group. 

Although the text was originally published in a Mended Hearts newsletter, the organization has since retracted it. Their original retraction page (formerly at www.mendedhearts.org/heartattack_article.html but now moved) said, in part:

"How to Survive a Heart Attack When Alone" was initially published in a local chapter newsletter, without first verifying a medical source. The American Heart Association does not endorse the coughing procedure, and does not teach this as part of the core curriculum in any course. This procedure has been used in a medical setting (not related to heart attacks) with physicians available to diagnose the specific problem, and to instruct the patient how to cough. Therefore, it is not a recommended procedure for the general public. We encourage the public to call 911 in the event of an emergency.

The current retraction page (see it here) says, in part:

""It's right up there with voodoo as far as I'm concerned," says Dr. Cary Fishbein, a cardiologist with the Dayton Heart Center."

Rochester General had no part in the creation or dissemination of the message. See their warning page. It says, in part:

The source of information for this article was attributed to ViaHealth Rochester General Hospital. [snip]

We can find no record that an article even resembling this was produced by Rochester General Hospital within the last 20 years. Furthermore, the medical information listed in the article can not be verified by current medical literature and is in no way condoned by this hospital's medical staff. Also, both The Mended Hearts, Inc., a support organization for heart patients, and the American Heart Association have said that this information should not be forwarded or used by anyone.

It appears that "cough CPR" may be a real procedure occasionally used in emergency situations under professional supervision. But it is not taught in standard CPR courses, nor is it typically recommended as a "life-saving" measure for people who experience a heart attack when alone. Also, in certain instances where a patient has abnormal heart rhythms, coughing can help restore them to normal. But most heart attacks are not of this type. 

In this case, a basic core truth was apparently misunderstood and misrepresented. 

A chapter of Mended Hearts published it without proper research. It was then reprinted by other chapters and eventually found its way into email form.

Darla Bonham, the organization's executive director, has since issued a statement which reads, in part

I've received email from people all across the country wanting to know if it is a valid medically approved procedure. I contacted a scientist on staff with the American Heart Association emergency Cardiac Care division, and he was able to track a possible source of the information. The information comes from a professional textbook on emergency cardiac care. This procedure is also known as "cough CPR" and is used in emergency situations by professional staff.  The American Heart Association does not recommend that the public use this method in a situation where there is no medical supervision.

Of course, part of the problem has been that everyone receiving the email has forwarded it on.

If you were one of those, you might take a moment to forward the URL of this page to help everyone obtain the correct information


And the Beat Goes On

This page was originally created sometime before 16.August.2000. The original disclaimer from Rochester General Hospital is from August.1999. Yet the information continues to circle the net.

Macon Area Online.com (21.Nov.2002), "Letter-Ever Feel Like Your having A Heart Attack?"Macon Area Online.com (21.Nov.2002) , "Letter-ever Feel Like Your having A Heart Attack?": An email from Darlene Jantzen to this news site continues the cough story. 

Original Sources

Mended Hearts Statement on Heart Attack ArticleMended Hearts Statement on Heart Attack Article 

ViaHealth (Rochester General Hospital) Important Notice Regarding the article "How to Survive a Heart Attack When Alone."ViaHealth (Rochester General Hospital) Important Notice Regarding the article "How to Survive a Heart Attack When Alone."   


Health On the Net Foundation HONcode Principles Certificate 885223

This site subscribes to the HONcode principles of the Health On the Net Foundation

Certified Medinex Health Site

This site was a Medinex Certified Health Site and subscribed to the Medinex Code of ethics.

[NB: These links point to an archive of the actual page which is no longer available. The archive is hosted by the
Internet Archive Wayback Machine. The assets of Medinex were sold in a Chapter 11 bankruptcy sale in March 2003. The future of the Medinex certification and code of ethics program is uncertain at this time but it is unlikely to continue. I maintain this information for reference.]

I am not a licensed or trained health care provider. I'm just a guy who cares (bunches) about Multiple Sclerosis and who spends too much time on the net. I provide the medical information on this website for educational and informational purposes only. It is not a substitute for a health care provider's care and consultation. Please consult your health care provider about any opinions or recommendations with respect to your own symptoms and conditions. Any treatment or nutritional product mentioned on this site is not intended or claimed to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease. Please advise me of any errors or omissions you detect. I receive no funds from any medical products companies. And, I fully disclose all other product affiliations on the Disclaimers, Copyrights and Other Legal Stuff page on this site.

The extra text menu links (previously here) are being removed in the site redesign.
Browser and search engine improvements have eliminated the motivation/necessity for them.

This page created:
Wed, 16.Aug.2000

Last updated:
16:17, Sat, 10.May.2014

. . .


 Explanation of the rewrite: New Page Layout.
 Check out my blog: My Ephemerae
 Yes ... I want you to link to my site Please link to me
 Want to email me? I'd love to hear from you.
 I have begun tutoring in the South Houston, Texas area.

. . .
cough heart attack alone save life urban legend; can caughing save your llife or is it just another dangerous urban legend; qwert . . . cough heart attack alone save life urban legend; can caughing save your llife or is it just another dangerous urban legend; qwert