The American Heart Association does not endorse "cough CPR," a procedure widely publicized on the internet.
During a sudden arrhythmia (abnormal heart rhythm), a conscious, responsive person may be able to cough forcefully and repetitively to maintain enough blood flow to the brain to remain conscious for a few seconds until the arrhythmia is treated. This has been mislabeled "cough CPR," although it's not a form of traditional resuscitation.
Why isn't "cough CPR" appropriate in CPR training courses?
"Cough CPR" should not be taught in lay-rescuer CPR courses because it's generally not useful in the prehospital setting. In virtually all lay-rescuer CPR courses, the person's unresponsiveness signals an emergency. Unresponsive victims can't perform "cough CPR."
Are there situations when "cough CPR" is appropriate?
"Cough CPR" may be a temporary measure in settings such as the cardiac catheterization laboratory where patients are conscious and constantly monitored (for example, with an ECG machine). A nurse or physician can instruct and coach the patients to cough forcefully every one to three seconds during the initial seconds of a sudden arrhythmia. But because it's not effective in all patients, it shouldn't delay definitive treatment.
The best strategy is to be aware of the warning signs for cardiac arrest – sudden loss of responsiveness and no normal breathing – and call 911.