Monday, February 25, 2008

Heimlich Maneuver


As what I have witnessed recently while eating in a restaurant, a man sitting from a nearby table is holding his neck that seems to be catching his breath was being rescued by another man that made this first-aid procedure to him, thereby saving his life. It was only later I learned this life-saving action as Heimlich Maneuver.  By the way, what is it? 


Heimlich Maneuver most often referred to by the technical term "abdominal thrusts" was known to be invented by an American physician, Henry Jay Heimlich. It is a first aid process for removing a foreign object lodged in the airway which is preventing a person from breathing. 


This procedure was first to be described and published by his associate, Edward A Patrick, MD, PhD, in an article "Pop Goes the Cafe Coronary," printed in June 1974, “Emergency Medicine” journal. 


This abdominal thrust  is an emergency procedure that may be carried-out by a rescuer who will stand behind a victim and by using his or her hands will directly apply pressure on the lowest part of the thoracic diaphragm thereby, compressing the lungs and exerting pressure so that any object that get stuck, jammed or clogged in the trachea will be expelled-out through artificial coughing. 


Even though this is done correctly, a precaution must be taken into consideration, because of the forceful manner of the technique. This could physically injure the patient on whom it was performed.  There is a high probability that the rescuer may bruise the abdomen and can result severe injuries, such as the fracture of the ribs and the xiphoid process as well. 


Assuming a victim has the knowledge of this technique, self-treatment can be made. He or she may perform this procedure with his or her own self. This can be done by using secured objects like the back of a chair or a railing on which the victim himself could exert self-body pressure on the bottom of his thoracic diaphragm instead of the normal rescuer’s hands. 


This Heimlich Maneuver can be performed to any choking victim but there are necessary modification especially when the person is very obese, pregnant, a child or an infant. In order to determine that a person’s airway is blocked; certain indications are to be observed which includes: 


      Ø  The person desperately grabs at his or her throat.  


Ø  The person either cannot speak or cry out.  


Ø  The person's face turns blue from lack of oxygen.  


Ø  The person has a weak cough,  and labored breathing produces a high-pitched noise.  


Ø  The person does all of the above, then becomes unconscious. 


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