Tips and hacks


By Philip S. Chua, MD. 

You can actually perform CPR (Cardio-Pulmonary Resuscitation) on yourself, when your heart falters (giving you a most uncomfortable panicky feeling, irregular rhythm, with or without chest pains, and a sensation of impending doom), anywhere you are, especially when you are driving, and save a life (your own) and prevent a crash that might kill other people too.

The physiologic mechanics: The heart is in between the left and right lungs, the vertebrae (spine) behind and the sternum (breastbone) in front. When the lungs expand, like when you take a real deep breath, the distended lungs will not only provide oxygen to your blood but also squeeze on your heart. This helps in the faster flow of blood out of the heart, easing the workload of your ticker.

In standard CPR performed by any trained person, mouth to mouth resuscitation is done, precisely to fill the lungs with air (oxygen), which also squeezes the heart. At the same time, cardiac massage (pumping down on the sternum aimed at squeezing the heart) is performed. Self-Cardio-Pulmonary Resuscitation (SCPR) is a vital option when one is alone, as an instant first-aid measure, when faced with a situation that calls for it.

The Technique: The first thing to do immediately, when the symptoms start, is to take repeated deep breaths, and coughing real hard between each breath. If the heart irregularity and uncomfortable feeling continues after ten series of deep breaths and hard coughing, hitting the chest moderately hard with a clenched fist might help.  The coughing and deep breaths must continue as the person drives to the nearest hospital emergency room or physician’s office. The disappearance of the symptoms as a response to the SCPR does not negate the need for immediate medical consultation.

Our entire school system, starting from the elementary school, would do humanity a great service if a course in CPR and SCPR is made mandatory in every level of its curricula.

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If the ambient air is too dry, whether you are in desert, in a room with a heater during winter, or on board an airplane (where the air is very dry), you can device your personal “humidifier” by soaking a face towel and putting it against your nose. This will provide moisture to the air you breathe in. The same improvisation and/or wet towels in strategic areas will help humidify any dry room. Running the shower will also do it but terribly wasteful, expensive, and not eco-friendly.

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Large paper clips will serve well as collar stays when one forgets to bring them on a trip. Or, making collar stays with a piece of hard plastic or cardboard.

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Sticking a bright colored emblem of any kind (mine is a red heart) on your credit card is a way of identifying your card at a distance, when you hand it over to a sales clerk of any store, and makes it a lot easier for you to “detect” when you are given back another card, by mistake or intentionally, which has happened.

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One of the best ways to prevent viruses from attacking your computer (on top of your anti-virus software) is by not opening any email you receive from someone you do not know, and thrashing them immediately. If needed, you could retrieve them from the Trash Bin, which holds them for 30 days prior to final deletion. Even if the email comes from a person you know, its attachment, if any, must be tagged or designated “virus free.” Spam mail eliminator is not enough. Common sense and vigilance do a lot more in protecting your computer and all valuable data in it. Disciplining yourself to adhere to this practice religiously will severely minimize, if not avoid, virus infestation and computer crashes, loss of priceless data, inconvenience, and avoidable expenses.

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Handling money, touching stair or escalator hand rails, door knobs, in public places, or handshakes expose one to a lot of viruses and or bacteria, and potential illnesses, especially during this COVID-19 pandemic. Imagine the thousands of people of various personal habits have touching those paper bills, coins, handrails, and door knobs, conceivably many of them with poor hygiene. Washing hands at least 8 times a day is more of a rule than an exception, if one has to prevent bug contamination and upper respiratory or gastrointestinal infections. The use of alcohol “wipes” or gel also helps. Anti-bacterial (antibiotic) hand wash preparations are discouraged for fear of inducing bacterial resistance to the antibiotic.

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Interested in anti-oxidants for better health? Vegetables and fresh fruits, in general are the best natural sources, compared to the very expensive pills, potion and lotion in the market, advertised as antioxidants.

Antioxidant Score: ORAC (Oxygen Radical Absorbance Capacity) measures the antioxidant units available to reduce harmful oxygen free radicals.

As far as fruits are concerned, according to the United States Department of Agriculture and Brunswick  Laboratories, the following are the ORAC score (per 100 Grams) of the following fruits: Bananas – 879;  Plums – 7291; Oranges – 1814; Blueberries – 9019; Apples – 3253;  Cranberries – 9456; and, Cherries – 3361.

Sunsweet, a company popular for its preserved fruits in the United States, came out with what it calls Antioxidant Blend, a dried fruit variety combo, which includes blueberries, cherries, cranberries and plums. One fourth cup serving (40 Grams) contain 90 calories. In Asia, the popular “licorice” flavor fruit preserve “Dikyam” is made from plum.

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To those who love water sports, carrying an intact plastic garbage bag, might be life-saving, even for a good swimmer. Experts have reported cases of leg cramps among some who did not bother to wear a life vest, who were saved by a plastic bag they inflated and hang on to, aiding in their buoyancy and ability to stay afloat longer, giving them the critical time for recovery from the debilitating cramps. Obviously, wearing an appropriate life vest is better, a must for the “seafarers” amongst us.

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When severe chest pains develop, a tablet of regular aspirin (325 mg) or 4 baby aspirin (81 mg each or total of 324 mg), might ward off a big heart attack by preventing a deadly blood clot in the coronary artery and providing an opportunity to get to the emergency room. Some people carry baby aspirin tablets in their pocket or purse. It is best to discuss this strategy with your physician.

The main objective of this column is to educate and inspire people live a healthier lifestyle to prevent illnesses and disabilities and achieve a happier and more productive life. Any diagnosis, recommendation or treatment in our article are general medical information and not intended to be applicable or appropriate for anyone. This column is not a substitute for your physician, who knows your condition well and who is your best ally when it comes to your health.

Philip S. Chua, MD, FACS, FPCS, a Cardiac Surgeon Emeritus based in Northwest Indiana and Las Vegas, Nevada, is an international medical lecturer/author, Health Advocate, and Chairman of the Filipino United Network-USA, a 501(c)3 humanitarian and anti-graft foundation in the United States. Visit our websites: and    Email: