UVA Health System Blog

Stories about the patients, staff and services of UVA

Our Blog Has Moved! October 10, 2011

Filed under: Uncategorized — Jennifer Stover @ 2:39 pm

We’ve moved our blog to http://uvahealth.com/blog.

Keep Getting New Blog Posts

To continue getting new blog posts from UVA, you’ll need to subscribe at the new blog address.

Go to http://uvahealth.com/blog and sign up.

If you’ve bookmarked this site, please go to the new blog and add it to your bookmarks. We’ll be taking down this site in the coming weeks.


Teen Bullying: Taking It Seriously September 30, 2011

It’s been in the news a lot recently. Whether online or in person,Teen bullying can negatively affect an adolescent's self-esteem, health and identity. teen bullying has had parents, schools and communities grappling with how best to address what often seems to end in tragic stories of suicide and even murder.

It’s not an easy issue to tackle.

According to Dyan Aretakis at the UVA Teen Health Center, it’s difficult for embarrassed adolescents to admit to being bullied. “Even though the schools are doing so much work to have this conversation, it’s still hard if you’re the victim in this society – you look like the weak link.”

And when you look weak? Well, that can be part of the problem. (more…)


Clinical Trial Helping Kids with Peanut Allergies September 20, 2011

Luke and Mary Roberts

Luke and Mary Roberts

Everywhere Luke Roberts goes, his parents must worry about peanuts.

If 7-year-old Luke eats peanuts, he could vomit, break out into hives or even stop breathing. Avoiding them isn’t as simple as passing up on Snickers bars. Many processed foods contain trace amounts of peanuts. Luke once had a reaction while playing with a friend who had peanut butter smeared on his shirt.

That’s why the Roberts family and nine others in central Virginia decided to enroll their children in a UVA study that confronts the allergy head-on. Luke — under careful supervision — consumes a tiny amount of peanut daily. Every two weeks, the daily amount increases. The hope is that Luke’s body will learn to tolerate peanuts to the point that an accidental exposure will no longer be life-threatening. (more…)


“Those Are Some Expensive Tomatoes!”: When to Buy Organic September 15, 2011

Is organic food better?The word “organic” is everywhere. Many grocery stores have separate sections for organic produce and packaged foods. You can even buy macaroni and cheese with organic bright yellow cheese powder.

That magical word makes us think we’re eating better, but it also comes with a higher price tag. Is it really worth it?

“The perception is that organics are healthier,” says Carole Havrila, a registered dietitian with the UVA Cancer Center. “But there is limited research to date to support this.”

Just what does “organic” mean? The federal government evaluates all products claiming to be organic to ensure that they are produced without chemicals, additives or manmade pesticides. (more…)


New Heart Valve Treatment Uses Hybrid Operating Room September 13, 2011

Sidestepping a Third Open-Heart Surgery

“For the most part, I live the life of an average 24-year-old graduate student,” says Brandon Conroy.

But like others born with congenital heart defects, he’s also in the hospital a lot.

He has been through two open-heart surgeries:

  • The first at age 5 to fix a series of heart defects and to place a pulmonary valve conduit (a tube containing an artificial valve)
  • The second at age 7 to give him a new, adult-sized conduit

Later, there was a catheterization to place a stent, then another “just to look around.” There were routine echocardiograms, stress tests and MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) scans. As his teen years came and went, Conroy knew a third open-heart surgery was inevitable since he had outgrown the second conduit.

But then last November, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved something called Melody transcatheter pulmonary valve therapy.

That’s when Conroy got the memorable phone call from UVA cardiologist Scott Lim, MD. The new valve would delay, maybe for many years, Conroy’s need for more open-heart surgery. (more…)


Full Moon Rising: An Investigation of a Myth September 8, 2011

Full moon“Things get crazy when it’s a full moon.”

I’m sure you’ve heard it before – full moons fill hospitals: more babies are born, more people visit the emergency room. It’s the kind of conventional wisdom people talk about with unquestioned conviction – and have for years. Lunacy derives from the Latin luna, the moon. The belief that the moon messes with us is built into our language.

But I was curious: Do full moons really cause us to go crazy? And if so, why?

A cursory internet search and I found that plenty of researchers had wondered the same thing. Studies trying to link moon phases to all kinds of conditions have found – well, not much.

Not that researchers haven’t tried. It seems hundreds of studies have attempted to find statistical correlations between rates of suicide, seizures, crime and lunar phases. But the results have all been inconclusive at best.

For instance, one experiment did find the number of epileptic seizures increasing during full moons – but only when the moon was visible. No correspondence existed during heavy cloud coverage.

For help with my subsequent confusion, I turned to Mark Quigg, MD, a UVA neurologist who conducted research at the National Science Foundation’s Center for Biological Timing at UVA and continues to study and treat epilepsy and other conditions.

“I’ve had patients who swear that the moon has something to do with seizures,” Dr. Quigg said. And he had also heard the anecdotal reports of emergency room increases.

But his short answer, for whether the moon actually does affect us?


No? I asked Dr. Quigg about the study. Didn’t it prove that the full moon has an effect – of some kind?

“There have been various publications trying to link occurrences of seizures with various natural phenomenon – like the moon or the seasons,” but, he said, the real factor for seizure episodes: Time of day. (more…)


Women’s Four Miler in the News September 6, 2011

It was fun. Humid. Rewarding. Those are a few things we’re hearing about Saturday’s Charlottesville Women’s Four Miler. 3,500 women came out on Saturday, and Charlottesville-area media covered the event extensively. Here are a few of their stories:

Thanks to everyone who helped our breast cancer program! Did you participate in the Four Miler? Share your story by leaving a comment.



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