I recently read a story, in the story, there was a person that had a severe asthma attack. Another person came into his rescue and performed compressions and mouth to mouth.

It wasnt stated whether or not the victim of the asthma attack had his heart rate stop at all in the story.

My question(s):
- why was it necessary to do compressions?
- can an asthma attack stop heart rate if its too severe?
(If yes then it would answer the previous question)

  • Absence of spontaneous respirations is a reliable sign that either there isn't a heartbeat or there soon won't be so the layperson CPR guidelines call for starting compressions based on that alone. Professional CPR guidelines call for verifying a pulse first. (I'm referring to US guidelines.)
    – Carey Gregory
    Nov 29, 2017 at 15:25
  • @CareyGregory It might interest you that in the EU, guidelines even for professional are not to check for pulse. If the patient is unconscious, step one is to check breathing, step two is to secure airways with the LTD or intubation (depending on skill of professional) if there is no regular breathing, step 3 is to connect the AED, and by then you will know if there’s a regular pulse or not. Meanwhile, the second person will be performing thorax compressions from the call „No vital signs, start resuscitation“ (right after step one).
    – Narusan
    Nov 29, 2017 at 15:55
  • @Narusan-sedated Although it would be relatively unusual, where that guideline goes wrong is the respiratory arrest that hasn't progressed to cardiac arrest yet. Why break ribs when a bag valve mask will suffice? I get the reasoning behind layperson CPR guidelines skipping the pulse check since that's a more difficult skill, but professionals should be able to confirm a pulse in 10 seconds or less.
    – Carey Gregory
    Nov 30, 2017 at 2:28
  • @Narusan-sedated I seem to have forgotten my password to my account so i cant get back in it and put the check mark beside you answer. Sorry :c
    – Someone
    Nov 30, 2017 at 4:48
  • @CareyGregory I think they’ve made the experience that even professionals can’t reliably feel pulse. Depending on the scenario, that can get quite tricky or close to impossible. With a progressing respiratory arrest, the pulse will get pretty weak. Add to that a scene with multiple injured or a cramped up location, and I can see the benefits of this guideline. // Also, I thought that breaking rips during CPR was somewhat a myth (as in that’s not the case every second resuscitation). As I said, that’s a matter of <15s until the AED is connected and one knows whether there’s pulse.
    – Narusan
    Nov 30, 2017 at 5:45

1 Answer 1


Asthma can lead to shortage of breath and in severe cases to death by suffocation (called asthmatic asphyxia). Failure of breathing inherently involves that the heart rate stops (called cardiac arrest).

A victim who is unresponsive and not breathing normally is in cardiac arrest and requires CPR.

European Resuscitation Council, New Guidelines 2015 p. 82

So, if the asthmatic victim did not breathe normally anymore (no regular breath in 10 seconds, ibid), they did everything right.

Even if they weren't sure whether the patient was still breathing, they did everything right:

enter image description here

Image Taken From European Resuscitation Council, New Guidelines 2015 p. 85

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