Health Board: Upcoming conferences, talks, campaigns and events

1) As a part of their 'Prevent a stroke: Feel the Pulse' campaign, the Irish Heart foundation is urging people to check their pulse twice a day. The 2x2x2 method is to remind you to place two fingers on your pulse, twice a day for two weeks. The Irish Heart Foundation is warning that an irregular heartbeat could mean atrial fibrillation, which 25% of people over 50 are at risk of developing. If left untreated, atrial fibrillation can lead to a stroke, permanent heart damage or heart failure. Strokes are five times more likely if left it is left untreated, however atrial fibrillation can be managed if caught early. Symptoms include tiredness, palpitations, dizziness, chest pains and shortness of breath.

Dr. Angie Brown is the medical director of the Irish Heart Foundation, and is determined to make the campaign public knowledge. “Our campaign aims to empower everyone over 50 to get familiar with their pulse and start making a twice daily pulse check a simple part of your routine. We have created a suite of materials, all available on our website, to help you keep track of your pulse checks and to educate people on atrial fibrillation.

“Although atrial fibrillation is generally not life-threatening, it is a serious condition and can lead to complications – most commonly stroke. By knowing about its possible complications, you can find out how to lower your chances of them happening to you.”

If your pulse feels irregular, very fast or you have difficulty feeling your pulse contact your doctor or the Irish Heart Foundation's Heart and Stroke Helpline (1800 25 25 50). Visit - Rob O'Halloran.


2) Luke O'Neill, professor of biochemistry at Trinity College Dublin, will give a public talk on his new book, Humanology, on Wednesday, November 28th, at 6pm in the Stanley Quek Theatre at the Trinity College Biomedical Sciences Institute, Pearse Street, Dublin 2. O'Neill, who is one of the most acclaimed immunologists in the world, is also renowned for his insatiable curiosity, humour and down-to-earth explanations of complex scientific ideas. He will take the audience on a whistle-stop tour of the origins of the universe and our place in it. Admission free.

3) Fundraisers for Our Lady's Children's Hospital, Crumlin, will dress as Santa and partake in what is billed as Ireland's biggest Santa Cycle on Sunday, December 2nd. Members of the public are invited to join the group, which will set off from the Phoenix Park at 5pm and go into Dublin city before returning to parking facilities in Clondalkin via Our Lady's Children's Hospital, Crumlin. Registration costs €30 and includes a Santa suit and Christmas lights. Santa Cycles will also be held in Limerick and Galway. Funds raised will go towards Straight Ahead, a medical support group which provides surgery, support and medical equipment for children with orthopaedic conditions, including scoliosis. Email for more details.

4) Medical professionals were reminded to prescribe antibiotics with caution at a seminar in Dublin in November. The over-use and misuse of antibiotics in humans and animals is one of the main factors in the rise of super bugs in Irish hospitals. "Since their discovery 75 years ago, antibiotics have revolutionised medical practice and saved millions of lives. Antibiotic resistance, however, poses a major threat to human health, particularly for severe infections such as sepsis. Sepsis is a time-dependent medical emergency. For every one hour that antibiotics are delayed, mortality goes up by 7.6 per cent and that increases exponentially. Overprescribing antibiotics can reduce their efficacy against sepsis by creating superbugs," says Dr Fidelma Fitzpatrick, senior lecturer in clinical microbiology at the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland.

5) The Irish Pharmacy Union (IPU) also urges the public "to keep antibiotics working". President of the IPU, Darragh Connolly says: "It is essential that everyone takes responsibility for ensuring that antibiotics are only used when absolutely necessary. The key message is that antibiotics should only ever be taken when a patient actually requires them to treat a specific bacterial infection. For anyone suffering from coughs, colds, sore throat, sinusitis, flu, vomiting and diarrhoea, antibiotics will not work and should not be taken." The IPU says increased levels of antimicrobial resistance, coupled with the lack of new antibiotics coming on stream, means there is a risk we could return to the "pre-antibiotic era" if this overuse is not addressed. "This will not only cripple our ability to fight routine infections, but will also undermine the treatment of more complicated infections, especially in patients with chronic diseases and could make many surgeries impossible."

Sylvia Thompson

Sylvia Thompson

Sylvia Thompson, a contributor to The Irish Times, writes about health, heritage and the environment