I'm seeing a lot of this being posted and re-posted on facebook. The original poster appears to be a chiropractor with homeopathic training (the post is public and can be found by scrolling down on his page). The claim is that you can keep your heart beating for a while by inhaling and then coughing, if you happen to have a heart attack. Here is the original post:

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Since many people are alone when they suffer a heart attack, without help,the person whose heart is beating improperly 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 hospital. Tell as many other people as possible about this. It could save their lives!!

The source itself is certanly unreputable enough for me to not take it seriously, but still, I'm left wondering whether there is actually any truth to the claim that coughing helps the heart to continue beating.

  • @Oliver_C - Oops, so it is! Sorry about that.
    – Ana
    Commented Apr 3, 2013 at 19:18
  • given the highly variable nature of heart attacks in severity, cause, and symptoms, it's feasible that it might help for some cases but not for others, and make things worse in other cases yet again.
    – jwenting
    Commented Apr 4, 2013 at 6:07

1 Answer 1


Pro and Contra are widespread


Cough CPR is a resuscitation technique described in an email that began circulating around 1999,[citation needed] which claims that through prolonged coughing and deep breathing every 2 seconds, a person suffering a cardiac dysrhythmia immediately before cardiac arrest can keep conscious until help arrives (or until the person can get to the nearest hospital). Neither the American Heart Association nor the American Red Cross endorses cough CPR during a heart attack.1.

Cough may help during heart attack

Petelenz presented results from a study he conducted on 115 people who had previously fainted or come close to losing consciousness because of various heart problems. They were taught how to recognize the symptoms — sudden dizziness and weakness, shortness of breath, sudden sweating and blurred vision — and then taught the proper coughing technique. The patients used the cough in 365 instances where they thought they were about to faint. The symptoms disappeared in 292 cases and medical attention was required in only 73 cases.

Cough CPR

The American Heart Association does not endorse "cough CPR," a coughing procedure widely publicized on the Internet. As noted in the 2010 American Heart Association Guidelines for Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation and Emergency Cardiovascular Care, “cough CPR” is not useful for unresponsive victims and should not be taught to lay rescuers.

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