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Managing Medical Episodes with QR Codes – the Bystander’s Best Friend

If you’ve ever been in a situation where someone you’re with has suddenly become unwell, then you’ve no doubt experienced those feelings of sheer panic when you literally have no idea what to do to help them.

There are all sorts of medical conditions that can cause episodes, events and seizures. Often a sufferer who has carried the condition for some time will be the one who handles the situation best, because they have become used to the symptoms, pretty much know how long they’ll last, and are very much aware of the best way someone can help them.

Epilepsy is perhaps one of the most widely known conditions that can lead to seizures, but there are others such as non-epileptic attack disorder which can cause panic attacks, fainting, convulsions, twitching, loss of consciousness, confusion, stiffening and falling.

There are also a number of abnormal heart rhythm conditions (arrhythmia) that lead to episodes that can be very worrying for anyone looking on. In fact, there are two million people in the UK who experience the likes of atrial fibrillation (AF), bradycardia, heart block and supraventricular tachycardia. Some cause the heart to beat faster than normal, whilst others cause it to slow down.

Supraventricular tachycardia (SVT) is something I’ve personally carried for some time. It’s a condition that makes your heart suddenly beat faster than it should.

A normal resting heart rate is 60 to 100 beats per minute (bpm). But with SVT, your heart rate can shoot up to way over 100 bpm. For me it often goes as high as 190 bpm.

Episodes can last anything from a few seconds to more than two hours. But on average for me, they last around 10 minutes, during which time I get hot and clammy, out of breath and a bit dizzy. Everything you’d expect when your heart rate goes from resting to 190 bpm in a matter of seconds.

The thing is, going back to what I said at the start of this post, I’ve actually got quite used to it now. It’s definitely a weird experience to say the least, but when it happens, it’s scarier for those around me than it is for me. Especially if they’ve not experienced it before.

The thing is that people don’t know what to do for the best. Why would they unless they’ve been medically trained? And that’s what makes the panic set in, for them that is. But there are actually a few things people can do to help me out.

The trouble is, for me it makes it worse if I’m bombarded with questions and have to struggle to give instructions. What I really want to relay is that I’d appreciate the coldest soft drink they can conjure up (because for me, cold fluid gulped at speed can sometimes ease the symptoms), and then to be left alone, seated or lying down. I know if I need an ambulance (which is thankfully a rare thing), and am quite capable of communicating this.

But how to convey all of this when your heart is beating out of your chest and you are struggling for breath? With certain conditions, some people can’t speak at all. Others may even be unconscious.

This is why I came up with the idea for emergency QR codes.

I’d be surprised if there are many people who haven’t come across a QR code. They’re everywhere now. On TV, in restaurants, charity shops, train stations and all over entertainment venues. But there’s more to these little black squares than travel and leisure.

I’ve got one stuck to my phone that’s got information stored on it about my medical condition. So, if I have an episode, and the person I’m with starts to get panicky, I offer them the emergency QR code to scan with their smartphone. And there in an instant on their screen, they get all the instructions they need to help me.

“Don’t worry, I know what this is.” “Cut the questions, and get me that cold drink - pronto.”

I’m sure there are plenty of people who have been in the same situation as me, and in the same situation as the people who’ve been panic-struck trying to help me.

Like I said, two million people in the UK suffer from arrhythmia. And there are over 600,000 people in the UK with a known diagnosis of epilepsy, and an estimated 20,000 with Non-Epileptic Attack Disorder.

And then there are other conditions, such as diabetes that can cause hypoglycaemic (low blood sugar) episodes. Not everyone will be able to recognise these, so having a heads-up at hand as to what’s happening and what to do can literally be life-saving. It’s hugely helpful for first responders and other medical professionals too when it comes to administering the right treatment at the right time.

And this is why I want to spread the word about medical condition QR codes and how valuable they can be for everyone.

Could you or someone you care about benefit from a medical QR code?

Bangl emergency QR codes can be a valuable tool when it comes to sharing medical information and care instructions in an emergency.

First published: 10th April 2023 | Author: Anthony Kirrane.
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