Background: Japanese rice cake (“mochi”) is a major cause of food-choking accidents in Japan. However, the epidemiology of out-of-hospital cardiac arrests (OHCAs) due to suffocation caused by rice cakes is poorly understood.
Methods: OHCA data from 2005 to 2012 were obtained from the population-based OHCA registry in Osaka Prefecture. Patients aged ≥20 years who experienced OHCA caused by suffocation that occurred before the arrival of emergency-medical-service (EMS) personnel were included. Patient characteristics, prehospital interventions, and outcomes were compared based on the cause of suffocation (rice cake and non-rice-cake). The primary outcome was 1-month survival after OHCA.
Results: In total, 46 911 adult OHCAs were observed during the study period. Of the OHCAs, 7.0% (3,294/46,911) were due to suffocation, with choking due to rice cake as the cause in 9.5% of cases (314/3,294), and of these, 24.5% (77/314) occurred during the first 3 days of the New Year. In crude analysis, 1-month survival was 17.2% (54/314) in those with suffocation caused by rice cake and 13.4% (400/2,980) in those with suffocation due to other causes. In the multivariable analysis for all-cause suffocation, younger age, arrest witnessed by bystanders, and earlier EMS response time were significantly related to better 1-month survival.
Conclusion: Approximately 10% of OHCAs due to suffocation were caused by rice-cake choking, and 25% of these occurred during the first 3 days of the New Year. Further efforts for establishing preventive measures as well as improving the early recognition of choking and encouraging bystanders to call EMS sooner are needed.