Not always! And knowing the difference between true-to-life medical practices and dramatic license could give you more realistic expectations when you face a medical scare. So, here’s how the experts rate a few Hollywood health scenarios. We found this intelligence in Women’s Health magazine.

  • On the series Lost a character is strangled and stops breathing. And after CPR fails, one frustrated fist-smack to the chest revives him. It may seem far-fetched, but it could work. According to emergency specialist Dr. Benjamin Abo, a hard-enough hit to chest can produce enough electricity to jump-start a heart, but only if you do it within seconds of it stopping. Bottom line: CPR is your best bet to re-start a heart.
  • On the soap opera The Young & the Restless, a character in a coma makes a full recovery, more than once. Neurological expert Dr. David Casarett says that on soaps, 90% of coma patients recover. But in reality, if a coma lasts more than a month, the patient has only a 50% chance of survival. And coma patients usually die or go into a persistent vegetative state.   Which means, they aren’t aware of their surroundings. In fact, the longer a person stays unconscious, the less likely they’re going to wake up and be fully normal again.
  • And the final “is it real-life or is it fiction” medical procedure: in Mrs. Doubtfire, Robin Williams performs a Heimlich maneuver so violent that his old-lady makeup pops off. In real life, Dr. Casarett says that your hand motions need to be forceful, but not that rough. And during a genuine Heimlich maneuver, the stuck food does not pop out and fly across the room!
If you’d like to learn how to do CPR and the Heimlich maneuver properly, log onto the website RedCross.org.