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September 10, 1960

Death After a Clean Bill of Health: So-Called "Fatal" Heart Attacks and Treatment with Resuscitation Techniques

JAMA. 1960;174(2):133-135. doi:10.1001/jama.1960.03030020021005

Fatal heart attacks frequently occur in patients whose hearts show no recent structural changes. In some of these patients, ventricular fibrillation precedes death; in others, the heart simply stops in diastole. In either case the procedure for restoring a coordinated beat is routine and can be extended beyond the confines of the hospital. Four cases of resuscitation after a so-called fatal heart attack are described. These experiences showed that in many instances the essentially healthy heart needs only a second chance to surmount a temporary difficulty. Mouth-to-mouth breathing and rhythmic manual compression of the heart should increase the frequency of resuscitation of patients whose hearts are structurally sound.