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Malignant Hyperthermia Awareness and Training Month – March 2023

Malignant Hyperthermia Awareness and Training Month takes place throughout March. As a relatively unknown disease, this month-long observance is dedicated to raising public awareness about the condition and how to treat and manage it. It also celebrates healthcare professionals such as nurses, doctors, and malignant hyperthermia specialists, who dedicate their lives to aiding every patient’s battle with this illness. The month is also dedicated to encouraging nurses to undergo training to support a community of diagnosed patients, prevent deaths, and provide first aid. Learn more about how you can participate in this cause.

History of Malignant Hyperthermia Awareness and Training Month

Malignant Hyperthermia was an unknown condition back in the early 1960s when it mysteriously took the lives of many patients. The nature of the disease was described as patients experiencing a rapid increase in body temperature while under anesthesia until their bodies could no longer handle it. However, a clearer picture of the disease was given in the mid-1960s when a man from Melbourne, Australia, with a history of family deaths, presented a compound fracture that he had gotten while under anesthesia. Similar cases were reported all around the world since then and in 1966, Dr. Robert A. Gordon named the disease ‘malignant hyperthermia.’ Together with Dr. Beverly Britt, he organized the first symposium on malignant hyperthermia, which was documented and published in the 1966 Canadian Journal of Anesthesiology.

By the mid-1980s, besides a high temperature, symptoms of malignant hyperthermia also included acidosis, muscle rigidity, and breakdown, which is why the treatment of the condition includes dantrolene, a muscle relaxer.

By the late-1980s, a strange observation occurred when a patient with Duchenne muscular dystrophy (D.M.D.) showed symptoms of malignant hyperthermia when anesthetized. Neuroleptic malignant syndrome (N.M.S.) is also another syndrome that displays classic symptoms of malignant hyperthermia.

A major breakthrough in the malignant hyperthermia study happened in 1990 when David MacLennan of the University of Toronto found that pigs were also susceptible to this disease as a result of a special mutation in their genes. Today, scientists all over the world continue their research to further develop ways to prevent and manage malignant hyperthermia.

Malignant Hyperthermia Awareness and Training Month timeline

Early 1960s
The Unknown Condition that Killed Anesthetized Patients

Malignant hyperthermia is still an unknown condition that causes the deaths of patients under anesthesia.

1966
The First Malignant Hyperthermia Symposium

Dr. R. A. Gordona and Dr. B. Britt conduct the first symposium discussing the symptoms of malignant hyperthermia.

1980s
The Symptoms of Malignant Hyperthermia

The symptoms of malignant hyperthermia are determined, which include high temperature, acidosis, and muscle rigidity and breakdown.

2009
Further Findings on the Symptoms

Dr. Susan Hamilton at Baylor University finds that genetically engineered mice with RYR1 develop malignant hyperthermia syndrome after heat exposure.

Malignant Hyperthermia Awareness and Training Month FAQs

How can you prevent malignant hyperthermia?

Currently, there are no known preventative measures for malignant hyperthermia as it’s genetic.

What are the triggers for malignant hyperthermia?

Malignant Hyperthermia is usually triggered by strong anesthetics.

What is the mortality rate of malignant hyperthermia?

As of today, the mortality rate of malignant hyperthermia is less than 5%.

How to Observe Malignant Hyperthermia Awareness and Training Month

  1. Attend symposiums

    The study and development of malignant hyperthermia management is a work in progress. Join symposiums and seminars to get informed about the symptoms and ways to manage this illness.

  2. Join training

    Healthcare professionals are encouraged to attend malignant hyperthermia crisis management training as a way to handle future patients. Find out if you can attend at your local hospital and medical facility to gain a better understanding of the condition.

  3. Donate to non-profit organizations

    Non-profit organizations such as the Malignant Hyperthermia Association of the U.S. (MHAUS,) accept small donations to promote optimum care for patients living with the disease and conduct further research for improved scientific understanding. Any amount could potentially save a life.

5 Important Facts About Malignant Hyperthermia

  1. Malignant hyperthermia is hereditary

    It’s an inherited syndrome that triggers patients who receive general anesthesia.

  2. Dantrolene helps

    The only clinically approved drug that helps relax the muscles of malignant hyperthermia patients, who are experiencing symptoms, is Dantrolene.

  3. Pre-anesthesia assessment

    It’s required for patients to disclose any family history of malignant hyperthermia during a pre-anesthesia assessment.

  4. The onset happens fast

    The symptoms of malignant hyperthermia occur rapidly, requiring healthcare professionals to respond urgently.

  5. Genetic testing is available

    You can find out if you’re susceptible through several genetic testing sites in the country.

Why Malignant Hyperthermia Awareness and Training Month is Important

  1. It raises awareness

    Since malignant hyperthermia is a relatively unknown disease, this month-long observance helps to inform the general public about the condition. Knowledge is key in treating and managing this illness.

  2. It helps research funding

    Continuous research and development for the management of malignant hyperthermia are essential. People showing support through donations tremendously help scientists and researchers to continue with the progress they’ve made in determining the most effective ways to treat this disease.

  3. It makes malignant hyperthermia patients feel seen

    In raising awareness around malignant hyperthermia, patients are less likely to be stigmatized. This eliminates the fear of judgment that they may experience on top of having to deal with the disease.

Malignant Hyperthermia Awareness and Training Month dates

YearDateDay
2023March 1Wednesday
2024March 1Friday
2025March 1Saturday
2026March 1Sunday
2027March 1Monday
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