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BMJ 1996; 312 doi: (Published 17 February 1996) Cite this as: BMJ 1996;312:450
  1. Michael Ward

    Complete airway obstruction from an impacted food bolus is surprisingly common, and has become known as the “cafe coronary” in the United States. The United States National Safety Council reported 3100 deaths from it in 19841 and Heimlich is aware of 20000 “successfully treated” cases over a 15 year period to 1990 (personal communication). In the account above the symptoms are well described: a sudden realisation of an inability to breath in, a feeling of impending panic, and a curious ability to rationalise over this life threatening event. In the presence of others it is a common phenomenon to be offered back blows and five sharp blows are the …

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