Cough CPR: NOT endorsed by American Heart Association

Man coughing (Photo credit: heartsofjersey)
Man coughing (Photo credit: heartsofjersey)
Man coughing (Photo credit: heartsofjersey)
Man coughing (Photo credit: heartsofjersey)

I’ve read a circulating information on the internet  about the so called “cough CPR” or “self CPR” that recommends steps or procedure when you’re alone and experiencing a heart attack. Below is the original content of the text.

“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 your 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.


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!”

Okay, so I did some research if the American Heart Association recommends such technique and according to my sources, AHA DO NOT ENDORSE COUGH CPR neither the American Red Cross. And they do not include this in a curriculum  in any course.

One reason, it is not well studied. In theory the cough CPR can sustain cardiac output given that the patient recognized the signs of heart attack before he pass out. But here is the problem, when people aware of this technique experience a heart attack, they might attempt cough CPR first instead of calling emergency medical service. And some experts suggest that it might worsen the case since when you’re trying to cough you hold your breath which prevents the inhalation of oxygen. So still the best thing to inform the public is the recognition of signs and symptoms of a heart attack:

-Chest pain, The pain may radiate to the left shoulder, neck or arm, jaw, teeth, back or abdomen.

-Shortness of breath

-Sweating (Cold sweat)

-Heart Burn


Symptoms of a heart attack may vary, others might experience mild chest pain, or asymptomatic or no symptom at all however it is still life threatening as a heart attack that causes severe chest pain.

Early Recognition, Early Diagnosis and Early Treatment of Heart attack SAVE LIVES

AHA Recommendation:

The best strategy is to be aware of the early warning signs for heart attack and cardiac arrest and respond to them by calling Emergency medical Service. If you’re driving alone and you start having severe chest pain or discomfort that starts to spread into your arm and up into your jaw (the scenario presented in the Internet article), pull over and flag down another motorist for help or phone EMS on your mobile phone.


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  • amany sawy

    very interesting and may be useful

  • Great article which helps in saving many lives. It is true that when we feel heart pain or heart attack, immediately if we cough continue sly and vigorously, it helps in pumping the blood at much faster rate to the heart and relaxes the muscles.