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No! Don’t beat elbow pit of heart attack victim – do CPR instead

Beating the elbow pit of a person who has had a heart attack can make them “regain consciousness”. That’s the claim in a message circulating on social media.

The elbow pit is the small triangular depression in the arm, on the other side of the elbow. It’s formed by the connection of the humerus bone with the radius and ulna of the forearm.

An alert for the message popped up in the Africa Check Nigeria’s Whatsapp group page, which we created with Nigerian media partners to track false information about health. 

It was also shared on Facebook.

It reads: “ Someone suddenly suffered a heart attack while watching a movie. A sinseh (a traditional Chinese medicine doctor) helped by beating the elbow pit for 2 minutes, and the patient recovered consciousness.”

Heart attack symptoms

A heart attack causes a sudden pain in the chest. The pain may spread to the neck or left arm, Oluranti Familoni, a professor of medicine and cardiology at Nigeria’s Olabisi Onabanjo University, told Africa Check.

He said in common and classical cases, the patient is likely to collapse, vomit and start to sweat profusely. “There are other symptoms that can only be recognised by a specialist.”

Perform cardiopulmonary resuscitation – CPR

“As far as orthodox cardiovascular medicine is concerned, the claim is unacceptable,” Familoni told us.

“It is not medically proven. The elbow pit is not related to the heart and lungs. If anyone is having a heart attack, administer CPR.”

CPR is cardiopulmonary resuscitation. It helps keep the blood flowing, which gives the person a better chance of surviving. A YouTube video shows how it’s done.

“Start CPR with 30 chest compressions before giving two rescue breaths,” Familoni said. “All public facilities should also have defibrillators which can be used when medical personnel arrives.” – Jennifer Ojugbeli


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