E-mail Warns Coughing Could Protect You During Heart Attack - KCBD NewsChannel 11 Lubbock

3/1/05

E-mail Warns Coughing Could Protect You During Heart Attack

Especially during cold and flu season, we think of the cough as a real nuisance, but a new e-mail circulating now calls it a lifesaver. Is it fact or fiction?

In fact, whether you're sick or not, the e-mail suggests that if you can make yourself cough during a heart attack, you could save your own life. So, NewsChannel 11 went to the emergency room at UMC to find out if it's true or a hoax.

The e-mail says, "Imagine it's 6:15, you're driving home and suddenly suffer severe chest pain. You're by yourself and about five minutes from a hospital. What do you do? The e-mail says to start coughing repeatedly and vigorously with deep breaths until help arrives. It explains "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." So heart attack victims have time to get to the hospital. So, could it be true? We went to the emergency room at UMC to find out and the answer is, it is true, sort of, in theory.

"It's not a hoax. They're applying it inappropriately. You have to be on a monitor. You have to see it happen right at the moment and even then it's only buying yourself 30, 40, 50 seconds. It's totally impractical. It's of no value. And I even heard somebody say yesterday 'Oh, so I guess if you don't have an aspirin, you should start coughing. No! The two things are completely unrelated. It's just simply not applicable to the public," says Dr. Fred Hagedorn, director of EMS.

Dr. Hagedorn says two things you should do, if you think you're having a heart attack. First, call 9-1-1 then, take an aspirin. Because if you're having a heart attack, you may have less than a minute before you pass out and 9-1-1 and aspirin will help, not coughing.

By the way, you'll notice the source at the end of the e-mail cites the Journal of General Hospital, Rochester. Sounds official, but we couldn't find more about that anywhere and Dr. Hagedorn says that's probably made up too.

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