What is cough CPR?
Cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) is done to maintain breathing and circulation in cardiac arrest. Usual CPR needs another person do chest compression and artificial respiration. Cough CPR is a form of self CPR. Coughing increases intrathoracic pressure and squeezes blood out of the heart into the aorta. Theoretically one can remain conscious if one continues to cough during a cardiac arrest (not heart attack without cardiac arrest – all heart attacks do not cause cardiac arrest). Practically it seldom works as the loss of consciousness in cardiac arrest is very fast so that the individual seldom recognizes cardiac arrest at the onset.
This method is routinely used during cardiac angiography when heart is seen slowing down on the ECG monitor. The subject is asked to cough repeatedly to maintain circulation. The heart rate picks up soon. It also buys time to administer drugs to increase the heart rate if the heart rate does not pick up spontaneously. Here it is a monitored situation when the operator sees the slowing of heart rate and asks the subject to cough. Moreover it is only a transient fall in heart rate which is often self limited, unlike the usual cardiac arrest which is most often due to ventricular fibrillation, which is not reversible unless a direct current shock is given.