Could something called ‘cough CPR’ save my life?

A man having heart attack sysmptons

I’ve recently read on the internet about something called ‘cough CPR’. The article claimed that if I have a heart attack and then do this, it could save my life. Is it true?

Senior Cardiac Nurse Christopher Allen says:

The absolute priority when you think you or someone else is having a heart attack is to call 999. This way, paramedics can assess and aid you, and you’ll get to hospital as fast as possible. There is no medical evidence to support ‘cough CPR’, which suggests you can help yourself by coughing vigorously if you think you’re having a heart attack and are alone.

Please avoid spreading this myth any further

A heart attack is when the blood supply to your heart muscle is interrupted; this is most commonly due to a blood clot.

A heart attack can lead to a cardiac arrest, when your heart stops pumping blood around your body. You would become unconscious, and without immediate CPR (chest compressions and rescue breaths), you would die.

If you are still conscious (and you would have to be to do ‘cough CPR’), then you are not in cardiac arrest and therefore CPR is not needed, but urgent medical help is vital.

The ‘cough CPR’ myth has been circulating the internet for a while now, especially on social media sites such as Facebook. If you come across it, please avoid spreading it any further and consider letting the person who posted it know that there’s no truth in it.

Christopher AllenMeet the expert

Christopher Allen helps manage the BHF’s genetic information service and has extensive specialist experience of working in coronary care.


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