Breathing helps us get oxygen from the air and deliver it to each cell of the body. Without it, our organisms can't function properly.

But what if someone near you starts to gasp, snort, breathe difficult and moan?

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These symptoms commonly describe agonal breathing.

It is not actually a true breathing, but brain reflex.

When brain centers don't get oxygen because of cardiac arrest or stroke, stem cells that are situated at the basis of the brain send signals about this trouble. As a result, a person starts to gasp in order to improve hypoxia.

People often confuse agonal breathing with death rattle. The last one is not actually a breathing, but a gurgling sound, which appears when mucus or saliva build up in the chest. At the same time, agonal breathing is a brief, abnormal pattern of respiration.

Credit: Freepik

Credit: Freepik

Labored breathing, caused by pulmonary embolism, infection, cancer or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, is also often mistaken for agonal breathing.

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Agonal breathing is often a sign of life-threatening arrhythmia that results in cardiac arrest.

When this occurs, the heart stops to pump blood and deliver oxygen to body cells.

Specialists from the American Heart Association say that having heart attack boosts risks of developing cardiac arrest.

Credit: Freepik

Credit: Freepik

Another possible reason for agonal breathing is cerebral ischemia. It happens, when blood flow to the brain get blocked by plaque, or if one of the blood vessels rupture and bleed.

Stroke symptoms appear suddenly and may vary from person to person, depending on the location of damage and overall health.

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The most common signs and symptoms of brain attack include drooping face, weakness and numbness in extremities (most often in one side of the body), speaking and/or understanding problems, poor balance and severe headache that appeared suddenly.

Credit: Freepik

Credit: Freepik

It's very important to provide first aid to someone, who gasps or have difficulties breathing.

Call for emergency help immediately and tell the operator about all changes, you see in a person.

If you suspect that cardiac arrest is a reason for agonal breathing, begin cardiopulmonary resuscitation, performing chest compressions and using an automated external defibrillator, if one is available. You don't really need to do mouth-to-mouth respiration.

Credit: Freepik

Credit: Freepik

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If you aren’t well-trained in CPR, ask an emergency operator, what to do, until medical professionals arrive.

Remember that time plays very important role for someone with agonal breathing. Acting fast can save a life and avoid permanent disability.

Credit: Freepik

Credit: Freepik

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The BetterMe Team wants you and those close to you to live a healthy, happy life! Your health is a valuable thing; look after your body and your mind so that you can live your life to the fullest – Remember you only get one!

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