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Am Fam Physician. 1998;58(2):325-326

Support from friends may help people recover from a traumatic injury more quickly, according to the American College of Surgeons. A 1997 study that assessed 302 patients stated that physical impairment counted for only 23 percent of a patient's continued dysfunction one year after the injury. Researchers discovered that patients with the same injury, the same pain level and the same socioeconomic status recovered at different rates, based on their level of social support. Patients with emotional and practical support showed more improvement than those without it.

Americans made more than 90 million trips to the emergency room in 1996—and who is paying the bills? According to the National Center for Health Statistics, about 78 percent of ER visits are paid for by some form of private (38 percent) or governmental (Medicaid: 22 percent) insurance. In 1996, Medicare paid for 16 percent of visits, and worker's compensation paid for 3 percent, reports American Demographics.

What's one more thing to look for in a spouse? Emotional support, according to the American Psychosomatic Society. A recent study of 45 healthy married couples 24 to 50 years of age found that cardiovascular risk may be related to spousal support. The study showed that high family support is associated with cardiovascular benefit for both husbands and wives, but husbands appear to benefit more. Both men and women with support had less constriction of blood vessels and men had lower blood pressure than those with less support.

Time flies when you're having fun—or does it? Study participants were divided into three groups aged 19 to 24 years, 45 to 50 years and 60 to 70 years. Researchers were trying to prove that the older people get, the faster their perception of time moves. Participants were first asked to sit and count seconds for three minutes. They were then asked to perform a task and guess when three minutes had passed. The guesses were wrong, from 3 seconds to 1 minute 46 seconds, with times being miscalculated more during the task-performing segment. The 19- to 24-year-old group was closest to the mark and the 60- to 70-year-old group was furthest, proving that time does fly when you get older, says The Brain in the News.

Americans spend over 90 percent of their time indoors, which is why having a clean, safe home environment is so important to good health. According to the 1998 Soap and Detergent Association National Cleaning Survey, conducted by Roper Starch Worldwide Research, 91 percent of Americans understand that clean kitchen surfaces are vital to good health, and 88 percent know the importance of clean bathroom surfaces. But 65 percent don't realize the importance of leaving disinfectants on surfaces for a specified length of time to kill germs, and only 45 percent know that regular dusting is important for overall health. Of those surveyed, 43 percent don't realize that longer lathering time is necessary in proper handwashing, and 31 percent don't know that washing hands with warmer water is more effective in killing germs.

Can butter help cut your cholesterol? Could yogurt boost your immune system? A new health food option may soon be hitting America's market. Pharmafoods, or nutriceuticals, are chemically or genetically engineered foods that could help fight specific health problems. These consumer products could turn into a billion-dollar industry by the year 2001, some analysts predict. Benecol, a cholesterol-cutting margarine, might be on store shelves this fall, says Business Week.

What's another way that men and women differ? Researchers from the Missouri Institute of Mental Health in St. Louis compared 230 women arrested for driving drunk over a two-month period with 929 men arrested for driving drunk over the same period. The women were less likely to be married or employed and made up a larger proportion of those enrolled in a first-time offender program, rather than a program for habitual offenders. The women also had slightly fewer previous arrests and lower scores on a measure for problem drinking, according to the study cited in Family Practice News.

Persons with acute MI without chest pain are more likely to have life-threatening complications, less likely to get acute interventional therapy and more likely to die in the hospital. According to a team of cardiologists from the University of Florida who engaged in a six-month study of 128 MI patients, of the 72 percent of patients admitted from the ER with chest pain, 33 percent had received acute interventional therapy, as did 3 percent without chest pain. Of the 28 percent of patients admitted without chest pain, 58 percent were sent to a noncardiology service and 44 percent were given noncardiac admitting diagnoses. Among chest pain patients, 32 percent had severe complications versus 53 percent of patients with no chest pain. Seven percent of the chest pain patients died in the hospital, while 22 percent of the patients without chest pain died.

Is it possible to guarantee a child's education? According to the Wall Street Journal, the Academy of the Pacific Rim, a Boston charter school, has. The faculty at the school has guaranteed that every child will pass the 10th-grade state exams. If a child doesn't pass, the school will transfer the amount in state funding per child to any school the child's parents prefer. The guarantee only works if the students agree to be tutored when the school feels they need it and if parents sign weekly progress reports.

Cold breakfast cereal, spinach, tuna, milk and other foods may need to be added to most women's diets, according to researchers at the Harvard School of Public Health. These foods contain folate and vitamin B6, which can lower women's risk of heart disease. The researchers studied 80,082 women and found that women who had the most folate in their diet had a 47 percent lower risk for coronary heart disease. Women with the most B6 in their diet had a 51 p ercent lower risk for coronary heart disease. Researchers say maximum benefit will be reached if women have over 400 μg of folate and 3 mg of B6 per day, reports American Medical News.

Fear of failure in school could become a thing of the past. According to The Brain in the News, a Toronto graduate student has discovered a chemical that can help make people smarter. The chemical, called Src, initiates learning and memorizing and constructs neural pathways that can store and process information. A drug based on this chemical is still a long way in the future, but the possibility is now open. The drug could potentially be used for treating learning impairments, Alzheimer's disease, memory loss and more.

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