FAQ Level 3 Award for First Responders on Scene: Emergency First Responder (RQF) FROS® - Online Blended Part 1

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Vulnerable People and Choking

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Understanding Choking Risks in Elderly and Prader-Willi Syndrome Patients

Choking Risks in Elderly Individuals with Neurogenic Diseases

Elderly individuals, especially those with neurogenic diseases like Alzheimer's and Parkinson's, are at higher risk of death from food choking incidents.

  • Study Findings: A study involving 75 patients who survived near-fatal choking revealed that nearly half had neurogenic diseases, with a significant number choking on solid food boluses.
  • Location of Incidents: While 25% of choking incidents occurred at home, nursing homes, hospitals, restaurants, and drinking establishments were also common settings.
  • Dysphagia Prevalence: Nearly 40% of Americans over 60 experience dysphagia, indicating swallowing difficulties as a major concern among the elderly.

Choking Risks in Prader-Willi Syndrome (PWS) Patients

Prader-Willi Syndrome (PWS), a genetic disorder, presents significant choking risks, particularly due to associated symptoms and eating behaviours.

  • Symptoms: Newborns may exhibit weak muscles and poor feeding, while individuals in childhood experience insatiable hunger leading to obesity and diabetes.
  • Obesity and Choking: PWS is a leading cause of life-threatening obesity, with choking incidents contributing to fatalities in this patient group.
  • Survey Findings: Surveys of deceased PWS patients' families revealed a high prevalence of choking incidents, with choking listed as a cause of death in some cases.

Factors Contributing to Increased Choking Hazards

Various factors contribute to heightened choking risks among certain populations, including individuals with PWS.

  • Common Causes: Poor oral and motor coordination, weak gag reflex, low muscle tone, excessive food cravings, reduced chewing ability, and voracious eating habits.
  • Importance of Identification: Caregivers should be vigilant in identifying these symptoms not only in PWS patients but also in other vulnerable individuals to mitigate choking risks.