I am sure this is an unnecessary warning as I am sure that you are all far too canny to be taken in but, just in case someone was not paying attention…..
During the Christmas Eve clear out of my desk (and how satisfactory was that!!!) I unearthed a print out I had been sent from 2001…. Yes, I know, it is a long time since I had cleared out my desk!
It came from pulse@NHS.com (sounds sort of authentic) and was telling you how to survive heart attack if you were on your own. It was all about coughing hard as ‘deep breaths get oxygen into the lungs and coughing movements squeeze the heart and keep the blood circulating’. Sounded sort of reasonable but – I like to get confirmation for my ‘reasonable’ these days – so I did a little Google searching. It turns out that this is something called Cough CPR and it a technique occasionally used in cases of cardiac arrest when the patient is about to lose consciousness. However, it should only be used by a trained professional in very specific circumstances; in normal ‘heart attack conditions’ it is more likely to do harm than good.
For what it is worth, if you do think that you are having a heart attack – and you can have a heart attack without severe pain – you should first call 999 for an ambulance. Then, if you have them, chew and then swallow a 300mg aspirin tablet as this will thin your blood and make it easier for your heart to keep pumping. Then lie down with your feet higher than your head and try to keep calm and breathe deeply. For more detailed advice see NHS Choices, British Heart Foundation, ACLS Medical Training or the trusty WikiHow…. Meanwhile, Snopes.com (and thank you to them for the image above) gives some interesting background to the email that I had had which, apparently, began circulating around 1999 – and was obviously still going strong two years later.
And this was not the first health rumour I had met. A couple of years ago I got another such email about asparagus as a cure for cancer. As with the Cough CPR, there are elements of truth here as asparagus is high in many of the nutrients, including glutathione which it is thought might help prevent cancer – but there seems to be no evidence that it could actually cure the condition. However, at least eating a load of asparagus is unlikely to do your health much harm, although it might make dent in your pocket! (Again, see Snopes.com for more.)
And of course, while you are at it steer clear of all of those very convincing looking emails which purport to come from PayPal, your bank, your internet provider etc etc. There are few of us who would really believe that someone had died in Angola and left us five million dollars in their will, but some of the more sophisticated scams are really hard to pick up on. Good luck!