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Am Fam Physician. 1998 Dec 1;58(9):1951-1952.
▪ Do your patients need a doctor's note for morning sickness? Can they be fired without one? According to a ruling under the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA), a doctor's note is not required to receive FMLA leave for morning sickness and, as the court pointed out, morning sickness does not usually require treatment by a health professional. The employer has the option to ask for a doctor's note to document a serious health condition, but if the employer does not request medical certification, the employee is under no obligation from FMLA to provide one, reports You and the Law.
▪ What do Scrooge, the Grinch and the Wicked Witch of the West have in common? They are all 50 to 100 percent more likely to develop coronary disease or have a heart attack than people who aren't so grouchy. A Harvard study of 1,600 heart attack victims assessed the risk of an attack during or after a bout of anger. Twenty to 25 percent of persons who die suddenly of a cardiac problem had been angry shortly before their death. Frequent bouts of anger in chronically hostile people are very dangerous. Anger can speed up the heart rate and raise blood pressure. It can also stimulate the formation of blood clots, narrow the coronary arteries and inhibit nerve signals that maintain normal heart rhythms, reports Consumer Reports on Health.
▪ Watching professional football may lead to domestic violence—at least if you live in Los Angeles. An analysis of 26,051 calls to the Los Angeles police department between 1993 and 1995 showed a link between NFL Sundays and domestic abuse. From Wednesdays to NFL Sundays, the average weekly increase in domestic violence calls was 99.7 percent during football season, compared with 67.8 percent during the off season. In 1994, when the Raiders advanced in the playoffs, the average weekly rise in domestic violence was 146.5 percent and during the Super Bowl it was 263.6 percent, reports Physician's Weekly.
▪ With the holidays just around the corner, wouldn't it be helpful to know what kinds of gifts everyone will be giving? According to a poll by Yankelovich Partners, in recent years the type of gift most often given to friends and family is clothing/apparel, chosen by 86 percent of the gift-givers polled. Books came in second, given by 65 percent of those polled, followed by money, given by 64 percent; housewares, given by 60 percent; and jewelry, given by 59 percent, reports American Demographics.
▪ Net surfing for nursing homes? Families may soon be able to learn more about the nursing home facility they choose for their older relative. The Senate Aging Committee will propose a $13 million higher budget in order to make unannounced inspections of nursing homes and post inspection results on the Internet. They would also require criminal background checks on all employees and establish a national registry of nursing home workers who have abused residents, says Medicine & Health.
▪ Will lighting up a cigarette dim your brain power? Results of an ongoing study conducted at the University Medical School in Rotterdam, the Netherlands, suggest that it might. The study included 9,000 persons 65 years of age or older, of whom 22 percent were current smokers, 36 percent were former smokers and 42 percent were never-smokers. A 30-point test that measured memory and mental function was repeated yearly, and a 0.25-point annual decline was found in the scores of current smokers, a 0.13-point decline was found in former smokers and a 0.03-point decline was found in never-smokers. The researchers believe that smoking may result in a decline in mental ability by damaging arteries that lead to the brain, depriving the brain of oxygen-rich blood, says Medical Tribune.
▪ Chili peppers to the rescue! According to Internal Medicine News, chili peppers may provide a cure for fungal infections. Doctors at a Philippine hospital studied the effects of chili peppers by chopping a batch of fresh peppers and making four infusions at four different concentrations. The infusions were tested on agar plates coated with Trichophyton mentagrophytes. Researchers found that, even at the lowest concentration, the infusion completely wiped out the fungus, suggesting that future antifungal agents may be derived from the chili pepper.
▪ Things are looking a whole lot brighter for Russia this winter. Russian scientists have invented a way to increase light during the long winter nights of the Northern Hemisphere. The Space Regatta Consortium has designed an 82-ft-diameter disc-shaped solar reflecting satellite that will cast an eight-mile-wide spotlight from space. The light will be as bright as 10 moons, and young eyes will be able to read by it, reports Newsweek.
▪ Driving, poor eyesight and advanced age don't mix. A study reported in JAMA, conducted by researchers from the University of Alabama, analyzed the relationship between vision impairments among elderly persons and the number of accidents they were involved in. Field-of-view eyesight exams, measuring visual sensory function, visual processing speed and visual attention skills, were performed in 294 drivers between 55 and 87 years of age. One third had a 40 percent or greater loss of useful field of view. Over the next three years, 56 of these drivers had at least one motor vehicle accident and 11 had two or more accidents.
▪ What you don't worry about may actually kill you. A survey conducted for The Wall Street Journal shows that people don't necessarily die of the diseases they fear the most. Men in the survey were more afraid of heart disease, despite the fact that more women than men die of heart disease, and women were more afraid of dying of cancer, even though more men than women die of cancer. Overall, 53 percent of Americans worry they might die of cancer and 37 percent fear heart disease. In reality, about a million persons die of heart disease each year and around a half million die of cancer.
▪ Coming soon to a grocery store near you . . . sweeter grapefruit juice? Thanks to a new development by a professor at Cornell University, grapefruit juice could soon be sold in special cartons that will sweeten the juice as it sits. The inside of the carton will be coated with a cellulose polymer impregnated with an enzyme called naringinase. Together, the cellulose and the enzyme break down the two ingredients responsible for the tartness of grapefruit juice. In just a few days, the juice will be sweeter, reports Business Week.
▪ People with chronic depression may be two times more likely to have a heart attack and four times more likely to die of one than a mentally healthy person, reports The Brain in the News. Six Scandinavian studies evaluated heart disease in depressed persons who did not smoke, overeat or have high blood cholesterol. Researchers believe that the chemical changes in the brain that are produced by depression can increase hypercoagulability and negatively modify the body's nervous system.
Copyright © 1998 by the American Academy of Family Physicians.
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