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June 17, 1983

Self-administered Heimlich Maneuver

JAMA. 1983;249(23):3175. doi:10.1001/jama.1983.03330470017017

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To the Editor.—  I had a recent personal experience in self-administration of the Heimlich maneuver. I was attending a meeting in Bethesda, Md, and, on retiring one evening in the hotel, I took my usual arthritis medication. This is an aspirin-antacid combination in the form of a capsuleshaped tablet. While attempting to swallow the elongated tablet, I aspirated it and immediately became severely short of breath and then could not breathe. I instinctively clasped my left wrist with my right hand and forced them vigorously into the substernal region. The tablet was forcefully expelled across the small bathroom and shattered on the lavatory mirror into a powder. I immediately regained my breathing capacity but was afflicted with a severe chemical laryngitis that lasted three to four days. The Heimlich maneuver can be self-administered—I was there!