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Choking awareness can save lives, experts warn

Severe cases of choking can lead to death within minutes. Data shows that this is the cause of death of approximately 3 thousand people per year, in Brazil alone. The main victims are children and the elderly. Therefore, it is essential to raise awareness among the population about risks, prevention and relief — this is the theme of “CNN Vital Signs – Dr. Kalil Interview ” which aired this Saturday (8).

To talk about the subject, the Dr. Roberto Kalil welcomes speech therapist Monica Bretas, specialist in dysphagia and voice, and cardiologist Sérgio Timerman, specialist in medical emergencies. The idea is to warn about the risks of choking and show how to safely perform choking techniques — such as the Heimlich Maneuver, used by an influencer to save her 2-month-old baby, in a recent case that went viral on social media.

Experts explain that children and the elderly are the main victims of choking. In the first case, small objects, such as coins and toys, can pose a danger. Among older people, risk factors are swallowing difficulties common to aging.

“If you take it, the number of people who go to an emergency room, children, of a certain age, is the largest number of hospitalizations. Over 65 years of age, it is one of the most frequent emergency room admissions. In other words, choking, when severe, can kill”, explains Timerman.

Experts also explain that the number of deaths and complications from choking is underreported. “Many people suffer from choking, are rescued and taken to the hospital, they will stay in hospital for a while and die, and on the death certificate, the cause is not choking”, explains Bretas.

In cases where choking does not lead to death, consequences may arise, depending on the delay in time for help. “With up to four minutes you have no possibility of having a neurological problem, or minimal possibility. From the fourth minute onwards, the possibility is very great. Above 6 minutes, the possibility of you having a neurological problem is very high. In less than 10 minutes, the person is dead if we do nothing,” explains Timerman.

Importance of awareness

Experts also reinforce the importance of providing more information about choking to the population, including forms of prevention and relief.

For children, small toys, coins and balloons pose great risks, and they should not have access to these objects without adult supervision. Monica warns especially about bladders. “Children put it in their mouth, it pops and goes straight in, the child inhales it,” she explains. “There is a measure that we use. You don’t leave anything that goes through the hole in a toilet paper roll near a child unsupervised,” adds Monica. In the case of the elderly, even dental prosthetics can cause problems.

But how do you help someone in case of choking? “The main thing is to call for help”, says Sérgio. Knowing how to perform the Heimlich maneuver can be the difference between life and death. “It is effective in up to 83% of cases,” he says.

During the program, the two experts carried out simulations to teach how the procedure to unchoke someone should be carried out.

“CNN Sinais Vitais – Dr. Kalil Interview” will air on Saturday, June 8, at 7:30 pm, on CNN Brasil.

Source: CNN Brasil

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