Agonal breathing — sometimes also referred to as agonal respiration — is the official medical term that doctors use to refer to the gasping that a patient may exhibit during a cardiac arrest, stroke, or other medical emergencies. There are actually quite a few conditions that could cause it. Asthma, for instance, has a tendency to lead to agonal breathing if the attacks remain untreated and not enough oxygen gets to the brain.
Carbon monoxide poisoning can also cause agonal breathing as more of the oxygen in your blood is replaced by carbon monoxide. Regardless of what the cause of agonal breathing is, there are quite a few symptoms that usually come with it and they can be a good indicator of what the root cause is. Without further adieu, here are eight symptoms of agonal breathing that you might encounter.
1. Asymmetrical weakness
Many instances of agonal breathing are the direct result of a stroke. This is why patients who are in a state of agonal breathing will usually exhibit other symptoms such as asymmetrical weakness. The easiest way to verify whether or not this is, in fact, occurring is by asking the patient to lift up both arms side by side. If one arm falls down and the patient is unable to keep it up then that means half of their body is incapacitated.
If you notice weakness in half of the patient’s body coupled with agonal breathing then the cause is most likely stroke-related. The best thing to do in this scenario is to call an ambulance then monitor the patient’s condition while you wait for the paramedics to arrive. Try to keep the patient calm as hemorrhagic strokes could progress faster if the patient’s blood pressure rises due to stress.