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First Aid 2023

How to do the Heimlich maneuver (with vídeo)

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How to do the Heimlich maneuver (with vídeo)
How to do the Heimlich maneuver (with vídeo)

The Heimlich maneuver is a first aid technique used in cases of asphyxiation emergencies, caused by a piece of food or any type of foreign body that gets stuck in the airways, preventing the person from breathing.

In this maneuver, the hands are used to put pressure on the choking person's diaphragm, which causes a forced cough and causes the object to be expelled from the lungs.

The maneuver was invented by the American physician Henry Heimlich, in 1974, and can be practiced by anyone, as long as the instructions are correctly followed:

See possible causes when a person frequently chokes.

How to do the maneuver correctly

After detecting that the person cannot breathe properly, due to choking, the first step is to ask them to cough hard and then apply 5 dry blows to the back with the base of one hand.

If this is not enough, prepare to apply the Heimlich maneuver, which can be done in 3 ways:

1. In the awake person

This is the traditional Heimlich maneuver, being the main way to perform the technique. The step-by-step consists of:

  1. Position behind the victim, wrapping your arms around them;
  2. Close one of the hands, with the fist tightly closed and the thumb on top, and place it in the upper region of the abdomen, between the navel and the rib cage;
  3. Place the other hand over the closed fist, grasping it firmly;
  4. Pull both hands in and up,as if drawing a "c" or a comma with your fist.If this region is difficult to access, as can happen in obese or pregnant women in recent weeks, one option is to place the hands on the chest;
  5. Repeat the maneuver up to 5 times in a row, observing if the object was expelled and if the victim breathes.

Most of the time, these steps are enough for the object to be expelled, however, in some cases, the victim may still not be able to breathe properly and end up passing out. In this case, the maneuver adapted for the fainted person must be performed.

2. In the fainted person

When the person is unconscious or unconscious, and the airway is obstructed, the Heimlich maneuver should be abandoned and medical help should be called immediately, followed by basic life support cardiac massage.

Normally, the pressure caused by cardiac massage can also cause the object causing the obstruction to come out, while keeping blood circulating throughout the body, increasing the chances of survival.

See the step-by-step guide to perform the heart massage correctly.

3. In the person himself

It is possible for a person to choke when alone, and if this happens, it is possible to apply the Heimlich maneuver on yourself. In this case, the maneuver must be done as follows:

  • Close the fist of the dominant hand and place it in the upper part of the abdomen, between the navel and the end of the rib cage;
  • Hold this hand with your non-dominant hand for better support;
  • Push hard, and quickly, both hands inwards and upwards, as if drawing a "c" or a comma with your fist.

Repeat the movement as many times as necessary, but if it is not effective, the maneuver must be done with more force, using the support of a firm and stable object, which reaches the waist region, such as a chair or a counter.Thus, with the hands still on the abdomen, the body should be pushed hard against the object.

What to do in case of a choking baby

If the baby suffers a serious choking on some object or food, which prevents him from breathing, the maneuver is performed differently. The first step is to lay the child on the arm with the head a little lower than the trunk and observe if there is any object in the mouth that can be removed.

Otherwise, and she continues to choke, you should lean her over, with her belly over her arm, with her torso lower than her legs, and slap her back 5 times with the base of the hand. If this is still not enough, you should turn the child over, still on the arm, and perform compressions with the middle and ring fingers on the child's chest, in the region between the nipples.

For more details on how to de-choke your baby, check out what to do if your baby is choking.

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