Can You Cough to Give Yourself CPR?

  • Medical Author:
    Daniel Lee Kulick, MD, FACC, FSCAI

    Dr. Kulick received his undergraduate and medical degrees from the University of Southern California, School of Medicine. He performed his residency in internal medicine at the Harbor-University of California Los Angeles Medical Center and a fellowship in the section of cardiology at the Los Angeles County-University of Southern California Medical Center. He is board certified in Internal Medicine and Cardiology.

  • Medical Editor: Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD
    Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD

    Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD

    Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD, is a U.S. board-certified Anatomic Pathologist with subspecialty training in the fields of Experimental and Molecular Pathology. Dr. Stöppler's educational background includes a BA with Highest Distinction from the University of Virginia and an MD from the University of North Carolina. She completed residency training in Anatomic Pathology at Georgetown University followed by subspecialty fellowship training in molecular diagnostics and experimental pathology.

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Ask the experts

I've heard that there is a thing called cough CPR, or c-CPR. If you are alone and feel like you are having a heart attack, if you cough vigorously you can help yourself. Is this true?

Doctor's response

The American Heart Association has provided the following response in regard to c-CPR: "The American Heart Association does not endorse 'cough CPR,' a coughing procedure widely publicized on the Internet. As noted in the 2005 American Heart Association Guidelines for Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation and Emergency Cardiovascular Care, the American Heart Association DOES NOT TEACH THIS AS PART OF THE CORE CURRICULUM IN ANY COURSE.

The reason is that c-CPR is so far a poorly studied procedure with limited potential for clinical application. It can theoretically sustain cardiac output for a short time until someone who can do CPR or administer Advanced Cardiac Life Support arrives. This is provided the victim recognizes that his or her pulse has stopped prior to unconsciousness. For the public, the best strategy is to convince people to become aware of the early warning signs for heart attack and respond to them by calling 911 or activating an emergency response team. If an individual is driving alone and finds themselves in this situation, he or she should flag down another motorist for help."

You may contact the American Heart Association with questions or for free booklets on Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation Brochure and First Aid for Choking Brochure at 1-800-AHA-USA1.

Medically reviewed by John A. Daller, MD; American Board of Surgery with subspecialty certification in surgical critical care

REFERENCE:

Cough CPR.
American Heart Association.


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Reviewed on 7/25/2017

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