Apr 1, 2014

Interviewer: Are there some April Fools pranks you should avoid because they actually could cause some serious danger to the intended victim? We're going to talk to Dr. Troy Madsen, emergency room physician, about that next on The Scope.

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Interviewer: So, a lot of people really enjoy April Fools, doing April Fools pranks on other people. Maybe putting Nair in the shampoo, maybe laxative in the brownies, maybe scaring somebody. But, could they actually cause problems? We're with Dr. Troy Madsen, emergency room physician at the University of Utah Hospital. Let's talk about April Fools pranks gone bad. Let's start with the first one. Scaring somebody. Could that potentially go bad?

Dr. Madsen: It certainly could.

Interviewer: Yeah?

Dr. Madsen: Yeah. You figure you'd get an older person that maybe has some heart disease.

Interviewer: Oh. Sure.

Dr. Madsen: Something like that. That could definitely cause some issues.

Interviewer: Yeah.

Dr. Madsen: Something that's going to raise their blood pressure, raise their anxiety level. Oftentimes, that can be the equivalent of what we call a stress test, like that test we do in the E.R., where you're actually precipitating symptoms of a heart attack or even a mild heart attack by doing that. So, you have to be careful as to who you're scaring.

Interviewer: Sure.

Dr. Madsen: I mean, be selective. Make sure this is a young, healthy person.

Interviewer: In the instance that it is somebody that has heart disease, I mean, is there, like, a threshold? Like, is it a loudness thing? Is it, I mean, where's the line?

Dr. Madsen: Anything that raises the anxiety level is going to get the heart going faster. And, the moment you speed the heart up, you've got these arteries that feed the blood to the heart, and if it goes too fast and those arteries are already narrow and they can't feed enough blood to keep that heart going, then you're going to cause potentially symptoms of a heart attack, or at least symptoms of what we call angina, where it's just not enough blood getting there to their heart and it's going to cause chest pain and potentially some problems.

Interviewer: That would be not much fun on April Fools, would it?

Dr. Madsen: Yeah. That would kind of ruin your April Fools Day.

Interviewer: Let's talk about laxatives in the brownies.

Dr. Madsen: Yeah.

Interviewer: That's an April Fools prank I've heard of before. Is there some potential for bad things with that?

Dr. Madsen: It's probably not going to be a big issue. Laxatives are going to last for maybe 12 to 24 hours. But, if someone has maybe some underlying bowel issues, like inflammatory bowel disease, things like that, it could complicate things. It could kind of compound the issues they already have, and lead to a lot of fluid loss.

Interviewer: Sure.

Dr. Madsen: And, the moment you start to lose a lot of fluid, you're also losing electrolytes. That can cause some issues, but probably not a big deal. I'm not encouraging this or condoning it, but . . . Just saying if you do it, it's probably not going to cause a major amount of harm.

Interviewer: What about Nair in the shampoo?

Dr. Madsen: See, that one doesn't sound like a good idea

Interviewer: Why is that?

Dr. Madsen: So, Nair, you know, for those maybe who don't use Nair or aren't familiar, I guess it's just a hair remover. It's going to do that. But, the big thing it does too is, it can cause a lot of skin irritation. But then you imagine if you have Nair and you're thinking it's shampoo, you usually expect that shampoo to kind of foam up and stay on your hair. But, this Nair is just going to run right down your face and in your eye, and that can really cause some problems. You get a really irritant sort of thing in the eye, potentially causing burns to the eye itself. You're looking at potentially an E.R. visit and even kind of some long-term antibiotics of the eye for that sort of thing.

Interviewer: So, it sounds like maybe what you should keep in mind is if you want to do an April Fools prank, great. But, try to think beyond just the prank itself, who you're pranking, if they might have underlying issues. Are there any other warnings you might have?

Dr. Madsen: I think the other thing, in terms of April Fool's pranks, obviously like you said, be careful who you're doing the prank to. Number two, anything that you're making a person ingest or put on them is probably not a great idea. And then, number three, anything that's going to affect emergency services. Anything that's going to involve a call to 911. If you're telling someone just as a joke, "Hey, your father just died," and they're calling the hospital to try and call the emergency room, those things are really not a good idea.

Interviewer: Yeah.

Dr. Madsen: Anything that's going to tie up any kind of emergency services or any kind of public services.

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