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Am Fam Physician. 2000 Dec 1;62(11):2395-2396.
▪ What a relief! A recent issue of Family Practice News reports that it may be unnecessary for patients to have a full bladder while undergoing pelvic ultrasonography. The results of a recent study were announced at the annual meeting of the American Institute of Ultrasound in Medicine. In a study of 206 patients who underwent pelvic sonography with empty bladders, a combination of transvaginal and transabdominal ultrasonography using compression was found to be sufficient for nearly all pelvic examinations.
▪ Milk does more than your body good—it may also lower your blood pressure. A study published in the September 2000 issue of Women's Health in Primary Care showed that increased consumption of dairy products may lead to lower systolic and diastolic blood pressure rates. Because there were only slight differences between those with high and those with low consumption, more research will be needed before we'll be able to say, “milk does your body and your heart good.”
▪ Sticks, stones and cola might break your bones? A study published in the Archives of Pediatric &Adolescent Medicine showed a great increase in the incidence of bone fractures linked to the consumption of carbonated beverages. Physically active soda drinkers are at even higher risk for bone breaks. The high phosphorous content of soft drinks might cause secondary hyperparathyroidism, leading to bone loss.
▪ It's usually a challenge to convince young adult males to have routine blood pressure screenings. Here's a creative solution to that problem: according to a recent study published in the American Journal of Hypertension, catching these men when they accompany their partners to an obstetric check-up seems to work. The study undertaken at Washington University School of Medicine, St. Louis, involved 191 men (79 percent of whom were between 20 and 39 years of age). Of the 191 subjects, 40 had elevated blood pressure, and 38 were unaware that it was part of their family history.
▪ When it comes to treatment for Alzheimer's disease, caregivers are concerned more with quality than quantity. A study published in the journal Neurology found that caregivers ranked quality of life higher than length of life. Almost 70 percent of the 40 caregivers asked to compare two possible benefits from a hypothetic Alzheimer's drug said delaying nursing home care was a greater benefit than an extra year of life. Maintaining memory and the ability to communicate with friends and family were also important benefits.
▪ Flowers may have more impact on our emotional health than was previously believed. According to a 10-month study conducted at Rutgers, the State University of New Jersey, the presence of flowers triggers happy emotions, heightens feelings of life satisfaction, has a positive effect on social behavior and can give people an emotional lift that lasts for days. The study adds a scientific foundation to what many consider to be common knowledge—that flowers have a strong, beneficial impact on those who receive them. There was, however, no mention of the financial impact on those who send them.
▪ It does pay to maintain a healthy lifestyle after all. Lowering your medical expenses may be as simple as taking a walk, weeding your garden or improving the safety of your house. A report in the October issue of the American Journal of Public Health states that these activities are associated with a 5 to 10 percent decrease in average monthly Medicare expenses.
▪ A study published in the October 10 issue of Neurology might help those who regularly interact with multiple sclerosis patients understand why they fatigue so easily. Tests of memory, conceptual planning, attention span and verbal communication were given to 45 persons with MS and 14 control participants. The control participants improved after repeated testing while the performance of the MS participants worsened. The latter group also showed slowed reaction times and reported feeling depressed and tired.
▪ Who says doctors don't get any respect? A recent Harris Poll rated U.S. doctors as having the highest prestige of the 17 occupations surveyed. Doctors have held first or second rankings in prestigious occupations for the past 20 years. In this poll, they were followed by scientists with 56 percent, teachers with 53 percent, ministers with 45 percent and military officers with 42 percent. And you thought you didn't get any respect.
▪ “Take one beer and call me in the morning.” According to a recent study cited in the British Medical Journal, men who drink one beer daily, or almost daily, are at lower risk for myocardial infarction than men who don't drink alcohol at all. The reverse side of that finding, as often is seen in such studies, is that the benefit is lost in those who drink two or more beers each day.
▪ Here's a riddle: What is expensive and painful to get; even more expensive and painful to get rid of; a common source of infection and allergies; and something that you will probably want to have removed some day? Answer: a tattoo. According to a study at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill School of Medicine, about 50 percent of people with tattoos are seeking medical attention to have them removed. Technology is trying to meet the demand with such modes as laser ablation, dermabrasion and excision of the tattooed area of the skin. While all methods of tattoo removal leave scar tissue, researchers point out that some results are worse than others. They warn that if you think you might change your mind about your tattoo, don't get a red or a yellow one—they're the hardest to remove.
▪ According to a study recently published in the Annals of Internal Medicine, overweight and obese women are less likely to be screened for diseases such as cervical cancer and less likely to have routine mammography than women who weigh within a normal range. This is true even after adjusting for sociodemographics, illness, the health care provider's specialty, insurance coverage and access to health care. This conclusion was based on a population-based study of 11,435 women who responded to the Year 2000 Supplement of the 1994 National Health Interview Survey.
▪ A study in the October 5 New England Journal of Medicine showed that a shorter course of zidovudine therapy for expectant mothers with HIV may be just as effective as the standard regimen, at one-fifth the cost. This finding means more women in developing countries would be able to afford the treatment; 95 percent of the 1,500 infants born with HIV each year are in developing countries. Treatment would run from the 28th week of pregnancy until labor and would then be given to the infant for three days following birth, at a cost of $200.
▪ Communication is a two-way street. A survey of 15 physicians, and 19 teens and their parents published in Family Practice News revealed that 88 percent of the parents wish physicians would discuss high-risk behaviors with teenage patients. This desire is not evident to the physicians, however. Many surveyed physicians think parents don't want them to talk to their children about drugs, sex, smoking or drinking.
Copyright © 2000 by the American Academy of Family Physicians.
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