May 2008 News Tips

Note to media: To reach the media contacts for any of these health news tips, call the Office of News and Publications at 214-648-3404.

Identifying stroke symptoms vital to early intervention

“Time is brain,” goes a saying by stroke doctors.

A stroke – bleeding or blood clots in the brain — kills brain cells by cutting off oxygen. Treatment must begin within three hours to be effective.

Unfortunately, unlike a heart attack, a stroke often doesn’t hurt, says Dr. Mark Johnson, a neurologist at UT Southwestern Medical Center.

“It’s critical to be able to recognize the symptoms,” Dr. Johnson says.

Symptoms include numbness, dizziness, mental confusion, vision problems, trouble with coordination or severe headache, all of which come on suddenly.

If you suspect that someone is having a stroke, try this simple three-question test:

  • Ask the person to smile.
  • Ask the person to raise both arms.
  • Ask the person to say a simple sentence, such as “My name is….”

If the individual is unable to do any of these, call 911 immediately.

Several factors can increase the risk of stroke, including: smoking, high blood pressure, heart disease, diabetes and high cholesterol. Controlling those can decrease your risk of stroke.

Visit to learn more about
UT Southwestern’s clinical services in neurosciences.

Media Contact: Aline McKenzie

May is American Stroke Month

Exercise indoors when ozone smog levels are high

Swimsuit season is around the corner, but a UT Southwestern Medical Center allergist suggests checking air conditions before heading outside to work off winter’s pounds.

“Ozone smog can cause asthma attacks, coughing, wheezing, shortness of breath and chest pain when inhaled deeply,” says Dr. David Khan. “People most sensitive to ozone smog are children, the elderly, people with asthma and other lung diseases and healthy people who work or exercise outdoors.”

He recommends exercising indoors on days ozone smog is high. Running on a treadmill or power walking in a shopping mall are two options.

If you must be outside, Dr. Khan suggests avoiding high traffic areas and heading out in the early morning. Levels of ozone smog are lowest in the morning around sunrise. As traffic emissions and sunlight increase, so do smog levels.

Visit to learn more about UT Southwestern’s clinical services in allergy.

Media Contact: Erin Prather Stafford

May is Asthma and Allergy Awareness Month and Clean Air Month

Donning protective glasses clearly key to eye-injury prevention

Accidental eye injury is a leading cause of visual impairment nationally, yet nearly 70 percent of those injured weren’t wearing protective eyewear, say UT Southwestern Medical Center ophthalmologists.

“It’s a simple thing that could make a big difference,” says Dr. Preston Blomquist, a specialist in ocular trauma.

Many household chemicals — such as cleaning fluids, detergents and ammonia — are extremely hazardous and can burn the eye’s delicate tissues. When using chemicals, always read instructions and labels carefully, work in a well-ventilated area and make sure spray nozzles point away from you and others. Be sure to wash hands thoroughly after use. In case of a chemical burn, flush the eye with clean water.

Before using power lawn equipment, check for debris. Stones, twigs and other items can become dangerous projectiles shooting from lawnmower blades, potentially injuring the operator’s eyes or those of bystanders. Wear safety glasses when using lawn equipment and while using tools in the workshop.

If you suffer an eye injury, such as a cut, a chemical burn or an object stuck in the eye, seek medical help immediately. Don’t try to treat it yourself. You should also seek immediate treatment after a blow if you feel pain or lose vision, or if the eye blackens.

Visit to learn more about UT Southwestern’s clinical services in ophthalmology (eyes).

Media Contact: Russell Rian

May is Healthy Vision Month

D is for Dilemma: Should you skip the sunscreen to get your vitamin D?

Studies suggest that getting enough vitamin D may prevent a host of diseases, including cancer, type 1 diabetes and multiple sclerosis. 

Some experts advise that your skin can produce all the vitamin D your body needs with 15 minutes of sun exposure daily, but what about the risk of skin cancer?

For those who are at high risk of skin cancer or who just don’t want to take any chances, dietary vitamin D offers a solution, says Dr. Jo Ann Carson, a clinical nutritionist at
UT Southwestern Medical Center. 

Foods rich in vitamin D include fatty fish like salmon and tuna, shiitake mushrooms, egg yolks and vitamin D-fortified dairy products. 

Taking a vitamin D supplement every day can also help, but don’t take more than 1,000 IU per day, Dr. Carson said. In addition, be sure to take the form called cholecalciferol, or vitamin D3, because it results in the most active vitamin D in the body.

Visit to learn more about UT Southwestern’s clinical services in nutrition.

Media Contact: Kristen Holland Shear


To automatically receive news releases from UT Southwestern via e-mail, subscribe at