Disclaimer: None of the information in this article constitutes medical advice, and is just the opinion of the writer(s). We recommend that patients follow their doctor’s guidance in regard to medical devices.
LifeVac is an anti-choking device that claims to have saved 1,342 lives at the time of updating this article. The device is applied to the mouth and a suction force dislodges whatever is stuck in the throat. The company claims that their device can be used on one’s self or applied to someone else.
But is LifeVac shown in research studies to be effective? How does it compare to other anti-choking devices like Dechoker? What's the proper way to use the device? And how do real customers rate and describe the product's effectiveness?
In this article we'll answer all of these questions and more, as we review medical studies on LifeVac to share our opinion on whether or not the device is likely to be effective.
We'll compare LifeVac to Dechoker, feature an instructional video that shows how to properly use LifeVac, and feature real LifeVac customer reviews.
We'll also provide a cost comparison to show which retailer sells LifeVac for the best price.
Does LifeVac Actually Work?
The effectiveness of LifeVac has been studied in several legitimate scientific journals.
A review published in the American Journal of Emergency Medicine found that LifeVac was well-constructed and likely to be effective because the suction force it creates is greater than choke pressure:
“The negative pressure generated by the force of the suction is 3 times greater than the highest recorded choke pressure.”
This means that theoretically, LifeVac should be effective for choking victims no matter the size or dimensions of the object they’re choking on.
A medical review published in 2020 examined data from five clinical trials on choking, and the researchers found that LifeVac was the most well-studied and most effective device.
On its first use, LifeVac successfully dislodges the item being choked on 94.3% of the time, according to the review.
In all three trials on the LifeVac cited in the above-linked review, the device successfully resolved choking within three uses 100% of the time. The vast majority of the time, choking was resolved on the first attempt with LifeVac.
We will conclude from the available research that LifeVac is likely to be effective for treating choking emergencies.
We cannot say it’s conclusively effective until we see research on human subjects rather than manikins (though this is unlikely because it would be impossible to sanction a study that puts a real human life at risk of choking to death).
It seems as though this device may be especially useful given that the majority of Americans aren’t trained on properly administering Heimlich maneuvers, which is the abdominal thrust motion recommended to assist choking victims.
The LifeVac therefore may remove some of the human error and potentially improve choking outcomes.
A YouTube video from Inside Edition features a real, user-submitted video from parents whose baby was saved by LifeVac, and interviews the parents:
LifeVac vs. Dechoker
As we detailed in our review of another anti-choking device called the Dechoker, one medical trial compared the effectiveness of the two devices.
That trial was published in the Resuscitation Plus journal and tested the effectiveness of both devices on a manikin with food lodged in the throat.
The LifeVac was found to be more effective than the Dechoker. LifeVac removed the foreign object within 59 seconds 82.2% of the time, while the Dechoker only removed the foreign object within 59 seconds 44.4% of the time.
LifeVac was also shown in this trial to be more effective than abdominal thrusts, which suggests that it may be the only medical device on the market proven more effective than the standard Heimlich for choking victims.
Overall we would recommend the LifeVac over the Dechoker in light of this data.
Where to Buy LifeVac for the Best Price
LifeVac is sold on the brand's website and Amazon. Here's a price breakdown for the Home Kit at the time of updating this article:
Amazon: $79.99 (free shipping, link to Amazon listing)
Brand website: $69.95 (plus shipping, link)
LifeVac is currently 2-5% cheaper on the brand's website than Amazon, although that can vary based on shipping fees and customer location.
How to Properly Use LifeVac
LifeVac has a useful video on their YouTube page detailing how to use the device. This may be useful to anyone, even those not considering purchasing the device, given that the LifeVac is often used in emergency settings:
We Tried LifeVac Ourselves
As the author of this article, I wanted to get my hands on a LifeVac device to share my thoughts on the simplicity of use and whether or not I would purchase one.
Setup is extremely simple and the brand includes a test mask as well as an adult mask and a pediatric mask. All you have to do to install the LifeVac mask is remove it from its packaging and turn it clockwise into the suction device.
I couldn't do a live test of this product for obvious reasons, because I didn't want to risk my health, but I plan to keep it on hand in any case.
I like the security that having a device like this around the house provides. It's never a bad idea to have an anti-choking device in case of emergency, and I'm even saying this as a single person.
If I had children I would definitely consider having a LifeVac in the house.
Overall, I rate this product 10/10 and plan to mention it to friends I have with young children, as a backup option that hopefully they never need to use.
Real Customers Review LifeVac
LifeVac has been reviewed over 14,000 times on Amazon and has an average rating of 4.8 out of 5 stars, which is one of the highest average ratings we’ve ever noted on Illuminate Health.
The top positive review from a verified purchaser is written by a user named “SebrinaL” who claims the LifeVac saved their daughter’s life:
“My daughter is cognitively and physically disabled. Today, my other daughter left her hot dog out and my disabled daughter must have gotten into it, we didn’t see it happen, we only saw her choking. We were able to get the hot dog out within seconds. This device saved my daughter today.”
The top negative review from a verified purchaser comes from a user named “Morpheus1041” who claims the device is unlikely to be effective:
“I'm an anesthesiologist, so I know how to manage airways. This device comes with two adult masks (why?) and one pediatric mask that would fit a very small child. Neither mask would fit an older child, and since fit and suction are key to the device working, I doubt very much it would be effective for that population. In addition, the plastic in the suction portion of the device is very stiff, requiring a lot of downward force to prime it. I would be very concerned about facial or skull trauma as the device is activated.”
LifeVac currently has an average review rating of 4.7 out of 5 stars on Facebook.
Pros and Cons of LifeVac
Here are the pros and cons of LifeVac in our opinion:
- Has saved lives
- Clinically shown to be the most effective anti-choking device on the market
- Highly positive online customer reviews
- Should be effective regardless of what's lodged in throat
- Brand website charges for shipping
- Single-use only