Henry Heimlich's Contributions

Updated July 24, 2020 | Infoplease Staff

The Question:

When was the Heimlich maneuver first demonstrated?

The Answer:

Dr. Henry Heimlich is the Cincinnati surgeon who is credited with introducing the maneuver associated with aiding choking victims. He first described the procedure in an article in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) in 1974. Soon after a syndicated columnist covering the medical industry wrote a column about the new maneuver, editors at JAMA were flooded with life-saving stories and the term "Heimlich maneuver" was born.

But this surgeon is no one-trick pony. He had several other important contributions to medicine that also bear his name but aren't as well-known, including:

  • A technique to teach stroke victims how to swallow again.
  • The Heimlich Micro-Trach, which made delivering of oxygen into the throats of patients easier.
  • The Heimlich Chest Valve, which is used to treat patients with emergency chest wounds, and has actually saved more lives than his famous maneuver.

The importance of Dr. Heimlich's maneuver has increased in recent years. A few years ago he got the American Red Cross to recommend its use to aid drowning victims. Also, the Heimlich Institute has helped fund research that has promoted the maneuver's use to aid those suffering from asthma attacks. And he's even asked for studies to be done on how the maneuver could help expel the thick mucus from the lungs associated with cystic fibrosis.

Dr. Heimlich has been credited with saving more lives than any other living American. Tens of thousands of lives have been saved by the Heimlich maneuver, which is endorsed by the American Red Cross, the American Heart Association, and the American Medical Association.

Here is a link to a directory of how-to articles about the manuever.

-The Editors

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