September 6th, 2004
The Premiere OnLine Magazine for the Fly Fishing Enthusiast.
This is where our readers tell their stories . . .
How To Survive a Heart Attack When Alone*
Sent in by Ronn Lucas, Sr.
Publisher's Note: We have run this column before, and
with former President Clinton unexpectedly in the hospital awaiting heart
surgery, it seemed a good time to run it again. You just might
not have a Secret Service Agent at your elbow when you need one!
Let's say it's 6:17 p.m. and you're driving home (alone, of course)
after an unusually hard day on the job. Not only was the workload
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
uptight 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. Many people are
alone when they suffer a heart attack. What can you do?
Without help, a person whose heart stops beating properly begins
to feel faint and has 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 letting 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
You'll be giving yourself CPR with this technique.
Tell as many other people as possible about this - it could save
their life! ~ RL
Ronn received this from an RN friend. We ran it by our heath care
team who responded: "Showed it around. Everyone agrees that it might
just work as it creates negative pressure in the chest cavity. But as it
has not been officially sanctioned, there is no guarantee. OK to publish
with the proviso that it is sure better to do that than nothing as long as a
prayer goes with each cough (my own thoughts)."
We lost a dear friend in Montana to a heart attack on the stream. He
often fished alone. He was found there the next day. This might have
saved his life.
We thank Ronn for sending it on to us all! ~ DLB
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