Thursday, December 6, 2012

University of Cincinnati newspaper reports "Heimlich maneuver for asthma" study conducted on children in Barbados -- and my unanswered questions

The University of Cincinnati News Record just published Questionable Study has UC Ties by reporter Benjamin Goldschmidt. 

Here's the takeaway:
On Nov. 19, the University of Cincinnati received one of five inquiry letters sent to organizations that could be linked to an offshore, potentially controversial experiment.

Peter Heimlich, son of Henry Heimlich - famous for the Heimlich Maneuver choking rescue treatment - sent the inquiry letters in hopes of obtaining more information on the experiment, which was performed on children in Barbados, according to a study published in the West Indian Medical Journal in 2005.

...The study tested whether or not a modified version of the Heimlich Maneuver could stop an acute asthma attack....The 67 children who participated were between the ages of six and 16.
Charles H. Pierce, MSc, MD, PhD, FCP, CPI
UC received one of the inquiry letters because Charles Pierce, adjunct professor of psychiatry at UC, was involved with applying for loans (sic) for the study....

  Barbados Minister of Health Donville Inniss, MP
Other organizations and individuals also received the letters, including Rotary International, Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Barbados, Cincinnati Children’s Hospital and Donville Inniss, the minister of health in Barbados.
Records show that the study was funded by the Rotary Club of Cincinnati and the Heimlich Institute. (More about that in a future item.)

Dr. Anne St. John and HRH Prince Harry (January 2010)
...Pierce and Anne St. John, a doctor in Barbados who was involved in the study, claim (an Institutional Review Board) approved the project.
...“A couple weeks ago, I sent inquiries to Queen Elizabeth Hospital and to Donville Inniss, the Barbados Minister of Health, asking for the name of the IRB and when the (Ministry's) Ethics Committee approved the study,” Peter Heimlich said. “I haven't received any answers.”
More from the News Record:
(Dr. Pierce) said the modified version of the Heimlich Maneuver is harmless, and is meant to empty the lungs and give relief to an asthma patient and could prevent further asthma attacks.
Presumably Dr. St. John, the study's lead investigator, can clarify what sort of "modified version of the Heimlich maneuver" was performed on the child test subjects.

But here's what medical experts have said about the version of the treatment that my father has been hyping since at least 1996. (Click here for a Heimlich Institute press release.)

Loren Greenway, PhD
From a 2005 newsweekly article by Utah reporter Shane Johnson.

Loren Greenway, administrative director of respiratory and pulmonary medicine for Intermountain Health Care (Salt Lake City), and a nationally certified asthma educator, finds Heimlich's asthma maneuver physiologically unfounded and dangerous.

"Using the Heimlich maneuver in an acute asthmatic condition...could actually kill somebody," said Greenway.

And in this clip from a November 17, 2006 ABC7 Chicago I-Team report by Chuck Goudie:

 The Heimlich maneuver will stop an asthma attack," (says Dr. Henry) Heimlich.
Heimlich also urges the maneuver be used on cystic fibrosis victims, all claims that have stunned the medical community and major medical organizations, which warn that the use of the Heimlich maneuver in those situations could be fatal.

The American Lung Association asked Chicago respiratory expert Dr. John Shannon to speak with us.

"It shouldn't be used at all in asthma or in cystic fibrosis or any other chronic inflamation disorder in the lung passages," said Dr. John Shannon, Stroger Cook County Hospital.
"There is a good possibility of making a person with asthma substantially worse."
To my knowledge, the only article about the treatment published in a medical magazine is Some Experts Are Skeptical About Reports That the Heimlich Maneuver Relieves Acute Asthma Attacks by Carolyn Gard from the February 1997 issue of Modern Medicine.

Click here to read the article, but regarding the Barbados study, this quote raises some reasonable questions:
(Asthma specialist Homer Boushey, MD says that he is) skeptical of studies that have not undergone peer review. Furthermore, he adds, the technique should first be tested on animals rather than humans.
Did the Barbados study undergo peer review? If so, by whom?

Has the "modified Heimlich for asthma" ever been tested on animals?

And has it ever been tested on adult subjects or just on the children in Barbados?