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Man chokes to death while eating a sandwich in a bar in Valencia

Man chokes to death while eating a sandwich in a bar in Valencia

Choking is the third leading cause of death from external causes in Spain, after suicides and accidental falls

Andrea Gantes

Friday, 5 April 2024, 15:42

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A man has choked to death while eating a sandwich at a bar in the Valencian town of Aldaia on Tuesday 2 April.

Paramedics arrived at the scene after 11am after receiving a call alerting the 63-year-old man had choked. He was unconscious when emergency services arrived and did not respond to CPR - he was pronounced dead at the scene.

Choking is the third leading cause of death from external causes in Spain, after suicides and accidental falls. The possibility that it could happen is often overlooked, yet less than every three hours someone dies from choking while eating.

The heimlich manoeuvre

In order to help someone who is choking, it is necessary to know how to perform the well-known heimlich manoeuvre. The aim of this first aid procedure is to expel whatever it is that is obstructing the person's oxygen supply. When performing the manoeuvre on an adult, you must stand behind the affected person and embrace them with both arms, placing a closed fist between their chest and abdomen. At the same time, you must rest the other hand in a closed fist and press repeatedly inwards and upwards towards the centre of the stomach. Compressions should be continued until the person coughs up the object. To perform the same operation on a child, you must either kneel behind them or to place them on a table so they are at the same height as you. This simple manoeuvre increases the pressure from the abdomen and allows the air in the lungs to expel the object.

Choking in children

Although the majority of choking victims are older people, younger children are also at risk. In this case, a blockage could be caused by a small object such as a piece of a toy. It is easy to distinguish if the child is choking as their first instinct will be to put their hands to their neck. They will also cough or gag and will not be able to speak.

If the victim is an infant, under one year of age, there are modifications to the heimlich manoeuvre. The infant should be placed face down with the body supported by the hand and forearm, taking care not to press on the neck but to grasp the chin or jaw. Then strike between the shoulder blades with the heel of the other hand up to five times.

If the infant is still choking, place them face up on your forearm with the head lower than the feet and perform five chest compressions on the centre of the chest. Then proceed to explore the mouth to see if the object has come out, if not, repeat the procedure until the victim responds or becomes unconscious. If the victim loses consciousness, CPR is essential.

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