When an individual breathes or gasps after collapsing from sudden cardiac arrest, there is a greater chance of surviving. In more than half of witnessed cardiac arrests, the patient gasped. Gasping is like a survival reflex triggered by the brain. It is an indication that the brain is still alive and if you start uninterrupted chest compressions straight away, there is a high change they will survive.
If a person suffers a cardiac arrest, they will pass out within seconds, whereas a person who is choking will hold their throat, struggle to breathe, and still be responsive. If someone is choking, you should use the Heimlich maneuver.
Gasping sounds can sound like snoring, gurgling, moaning, snorting or labored breathing. CPR is a cardiac arrest victim’s only chance of survival until an automated external defribillator or paramedics arrive.
If someone who has collapsed is still gasping, there is a negative pressure in the chest. This negative pressure not only sucks air into the lungs, but also draws blood back to the heart. It is better for the victim to gasp, rather than for you to give mouth-to-mouth breathing. Mouth to mouth breathing creates overpressure in the chest and will inhibit blood flowing back to the heart. Mouth to mouth breathing should be given if the victim is not breathing.
Performing uninterrupted chest compressions (“Hands-Only CPR” ) may cause the victim to start gasping. Many people get scared by this and stop pressing on the chest. You should actually continue, as the gasping is a sign that you are doing a good job.
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