LIFEVAC non-invasive Airway Clearance Device (ACD)
Available across the UK, Europe, the Middle East and Africa

  • Those who suffer from neurological diseases such as Parkinson’s, Huntington’s, Alzheimer’s, Multiple Sclerosis, Cerebral Palsy and ALS are susceptible to developing dysphagia.
  • There are around 127,000 people in the UK who have Parkinson’s. 
  • Around 8000 people have Huntington’s. 
  • Approximately 100,000 have Multiple Sclerosis in the UK, where 30-40 per cent develop severe cases of dysphagia. 

Adults aged 65 and over face a seven times higher risk of choking on food than children aged between 1 and 4. 

At LIFEVAC, we understand that choking is a severe and potentially fatal issue, especially for wheelchair users. A wheelchair user’s survival rate from choking is drastically reduced especially as it may not be possible to receive proper abdominal thrusts or back blows if they are in a moulded wheelchair.

In a perfect situation, the Choking Protocol is 70% effective when performed by a healthcare professional, if not performed correctly, the probability of a successful outcome during a choking emergency reduces to a meagre 40%. It is worth noting that up to 75% of home care residents have dysphagia, meaning they find it difficult to eat, drink or swallow. 

In the care sector, choking is often known as the “silent killer” and is often a carer’s worst fear. To be able to appreciate the severity, we must understand the risks of choking and learn why the elderly and vulnerable communities face a high risk of choking.

Choking is one of the leading causes of accidental deaths in adults aged 65 and above, this is due to several reasons, the most common reasons are dysphagia, lack of saliva due to side effects from medications, and physical disabilities where someone may rely on a wheelchair for domestic activities. 

In a choking emergency, every second counts, you only have approximately 3 minutes before the casualty becomes unconscious due to oxygen starvation. 6 to 10 minutes of oxygen starvation leads to probable brain damage, and anymore than 10 minutes of oxygen starvation is most likely cause the casualty to die. 

When a person has a neurological disorder such as Multiple sclerosis, Huntington’s disease, Alzheimer’s disease or Parkinson’s disease, a tragedy often occurs due to choking. Unfortunately, it is difficult to keep track data on the severity of choking in the care sector as such deaths are recorded as “complications relating to the neurological disease” instead of choking. 

Care and diet plans guidelines have been put in place by SALT for those who are at high risk of choking to death. Sadly, these are often missed on occasion (for example, someone moves to a new home) and thus does not guarantee that a resident will not choke. However, these plans are essential in helping a resident at high risk of choking to stay safe and to enjoy food simultaneously. 

A common misconception regarding first aid and choking is that when people are trained to manage a choking emergency, many assume that the training is adequate and will always work. When having a first aid class delivered to you, trainers do not explain how effective the Choking BLS Protocol actually is. This leads to people thinking it is always 100% effective when sadly, this is not often the case.  

Foods classed as choking hazards include grapes, marshmallows, hard-boiled sweets, chewy sweets such as Haribo, and hotdogs. It is always recommended to cut the food into smaller pieces for adults and children who have difficulties swallowing. For instance, a child cannot swallow a whole grape as it is the “perfect” size to block their airway. It is advised to halve the grapes. 

Infants, children and young people with a neurological disability, and those born prematurely most likely have dysphagia, but feeding difficulties also occur in typically developing children. 

Small items such as toys like bouncy balls, pen lids, marbles and other toys with small parts are should always be kept away from children as they will naturally learn its texture and taste in their development process and by putting such objects in their mouths. Most toys come with an age recommendation on the outer packaging for parents to understand the associated choking hazards. 

According to some US data:

  • In the US, at least one child dies from choking on food every five days. 
  • More than 12,000 children in the US are taken to a hospital emergency room each year for food-choking injuries. 
  • The size of a young child’s trachea (commonly known as windpipe or breathing tube) is approximately the size of a drinking straw in diameter. Imagine the risk of fatality if a piece of popcorn is lodged inside the tight area!

The negative pressure generated by the suction force creates over 329 mm Hg, which is three times greater than the highest recorded cough. The duration of suction is minimal. Therefore, LIFEVAC is safe and effective. It has a patented one-way valve which means no air can force through the mask when applied.