Cough CPR

I was recently forwarded a internet article referring to “cough CPR” and asked if this is something that we should be considering.

What is “cough CPR”

Cough CPR is referred to as a method of preventing a cardiac arrest if you are alone.  It is a method of repeated, vigorous coughing intended to prevent cardiac arrest by increasing the flow of oxygen.

We, at In-Pulse CPR, do NOT endorse the “cough CPR” method.

Here are my feelings on the subject of  “cough CPR”

Why isn’t “cough CPR” appropriate in CPR training courses?

I do not feel that “cough CPR” should be taught to lay-rescuers as it tends to complicate the basic teachings of CPR.   The findings that signal an emergency for CPR is a victim’s unresponsiveness.  An unresponsive victim will not be able to perform “cough CPR”.
There have been and are situations where the “cough technique” has been endorsed by physicians for certain medical reasons.  However these situations are specific to certain medical reasons and always include special one-on-one instruction from the physician.  Used for the wrong reason or in the wrong way can be dangerous.  It could cause someone experiencing a mild heart attack to experience a fatal one.

My recommendation (and that of American Heart Association)

The best way to stop a Sudden Cardiac Arrest is to first be aware of the signs and symptoms of a heart attack and then immediately activate the emergency response system.  Call 911.
Now take an aspirin—-CHEW IT!  It helps prevent the blood’s platelets from sticking together.  The sooner it gets into your system the faster it can help.  By chewing it, it absorbs through the mucous membranes of your mouth and will get into your system faster.
If you are alone, and driving, pull the car to the side of the road and dial 9-1-1 on your cell phone or flag down another driver.

Are there any situations when “cough CPR” is appropriate?

There are times when the cough technique is found to be helpful.  This is often during cardiac catherization.  During this procedure patients may develop a sudden arrhythmia.
A life-threatening arrhythmia is detected immediately and before the patient loses consciousness, the physician or nurse may have the person cough repeatedly.  It helps to maintain blood flow and can aid in keeping the person conscious until the arrhythmia is treated or disappears.  During this the patient’s ECG is monitored continuously and a physician is always present.

It is advised that the cough technique be limited to monitored patients with a witnessed arrest in the hospital setting.

Author:  Mollie Bowman, Owner and Primary Instructor for In-Pulse CPR


About us:  In-Pulse CPR currently offers CPR training at 13 locations across Minnesota and multiple class locations in Pennsylvania , Florida, Georgia, and Wisconsin.  Many of our classes are available evenings and weekends.  Our instructors are also nurses and EMT’s.  At In-Pulse CPR, we prefer a more practical teaching approach.  You will find our instructors using real life examples, hand’s on training, and often humor to make the class enjoyable and the teaching memorable.


Mollie Bowman
Mollie is the owner and Training Center Coordinator for In-Pulse CPR. She is active in training our newest instructors to be their best. Outside of the office she loves spending time on crafts and outdoor activities with her husband and kids.
Renae / November 8, 2010

I had never heard of cough CPR, so I’m glad I read this. Thanks!

Denisha / July 12, 2011

I’m not easily impressed. . . but that’s impressing me! 🙂

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