- A dictionary of medical eponyms

Heimlich's manoeuvre

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We thank Henry Jay Heimlich for submitting these descriptions of “his” manoeuvres:
Heimlich’s manoeuvre is a first aid measure used in danger of suffocation for removing a foreign body from the trachea, where it is preventing inhalation of air to the lungs. The obstruction is usually a bolus of food. The Manoeuvre consists of a sudden application of pressure subdiaphramatically, on the abdomen just below the chest. This compresses the lungs causing a flow of air that carries the foreign body out of the airway and out of the mouth.

The Heimlich manoeuvre for drowning saves many lives. Drowning victims die because they inhale water which prevents air from getting into the airway and the lungs. A university study proved that four Heimlich manoeuvres clears all the water from the lungs.

An organization of 35,000 lifeguards reports the results of using the Heimlich manoeuvre, from 1995-2000, as the first step in saving drowning victims to clear the water from the lungs. Of 152 unconscious and non breathing drowning victims, 147 (97%) recovered completely. In other reports where CPR was used without removing water from the lungs, at least half of them died.

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