Sudden Cardiac Arrest Awareness Month

by Dr. George Carayannopoulos, director of the UTMB Heart Rhythm Center.

It was a typical morning for Adrienne and Dan. They woke up and turned to each other to welcome the day with a kiss and an “I love you.”

He went to get the newspaper, and she went into the kitchen to prepare coffee. He was at the breakfast table and told her that the forecast was for another sunny day. Adrienne was still in the kitchen but could hear him. She started talking to him about her plans for the day.

When she came out of the kitchen to bring the coffee to the table, Dan was slumped over in his chair, dead.

Dan had sudden cardiac arrest. Sudden cardiac arrest is defined medically as death or cardiac arrest occurring within one hour of the onset of symptoms, which could include chest pain, shortness of breath, dizziness, fainting or racing heart beats. Studies have shown, however, that the majority of people who have sudden cardiac arrest collapse or die without any symptoms. 

October was Sudden Cardiac Arrest Awareness Month. Many lives have been lost to SCA, and the story of Adrienne and Dan is not uncommon. The pain of losing a friend or loved one suddenly without warning is devastating. However, with continued medical research, increased awareness campaigns, and greater community access to state-of-the-art medical centers like UTMB, the problem of sudden cardiac arrest can be solved. Read the full story

Halloween tips to ensure safety of children

By Drs. Sally Robinson and Keith Bly

It’s almost Halloween again. Before sending your little ones out in search of candy, consider the following to ensure that he or she has a trick-free Halloween:

• Don’t buy a costume unless it’s labeled flame retardant.

• Make sure that wigs and beards don’t cover your child’s eyes, nose or mouths.

• Encourage your child to choose a costume without a mask. Masks can make it difficult for your child to breathe. Use face paint instead.

• Suggest a light-colored costume for your child, or add glow-in-the dark tape on the front and back of a dark costume.

• Avoid oversized or high-heeled shoes that can cause your child to trip and fall.

• Make sure that accessories, such as swords or wands, are flexible.

• Put a name tag with your phone number on or inside your child’s costume.

If your child will be trick or treating:

• Accompany them, but make sure they know your home phone number, cellphone number and how to call 911 in case they get lost.

• If your older child is trick-or-treating, make sure he or she knows to stay with a group of friends, never go to houses that don’t have the porch lights on, never go inside anyone’s house, cross the street at crosswalks and never assume that vehicles will stop.

• Kids should carry flashlights with fresh batteries.

• Limit trick-or-treating to your neighborhood or to homes of people you or your children know.

• Check your community for safe Halloween parties rather than sending your child out trick-or-treating.

• When your child returns from trick-or-treating, check all of the treats to make sure they’re sealed and that there are no signs of tampering. Throw away any candy that is not in a sealed package.

• Don’t allow young children to have hard candy, gum or other items they might choke on.

• Provide a filling meal before your children go out to trick-or-treat so they won’t eat as many treats.

Make sure that children who trick-or-treat at your house will be safe also.

Remove anything that might obstruct your walkway, provide a well-lit outside entrance to your home and put pets away.

Consider purchasing Halloween items other than candy, such as erasers, stickers, crayons, pencils, sugar-free gum or dried fruits.

If you carve a pumpkin, try using a glow stick instead of a candle.

Sally Robinson is a clinical professor of pediatrics at UTMB Children’s Hospital, and Keith Bly is an associate professor of pediatrics and director of the UTMB Pediatric Urgent Care Clinics. This column isn’t intended to replace the advice of your child’s physician.

Welcome to Working Wonders

UTMB’s mantra is “Working Together to Work Wonders.” Collaboration is part of the core fiber of our organization, and an integral element of quality health care. We believe blogging is yet another tool for collaboration, and we’re embracing it and other social technologies as a way to strengthen ties with the people and the communities who rely on us to help keep them healthy.

Our physicians and health care staff have great information and remarkable stories to tell. This blog is one channel for them to share those tips, notable news items, healthy ideas, breaking research and promising developments.

Working Wonders gives a voice and creates dialogue among our physicians and staff, and the patients and communities they serve.

We encourage you to submit questions, suggest topics you’d like for us to cover and share your opinions with us in the comments section on our blog posts. We look forward to extending our patient interactions beyond the walls of our hospitals and clinics and into the digital realm.