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Am Fam Physician. 2002;65(2):163

Only one third of older rural residents with memory-related problems associated with Alzheimer's disease consult their family physician. In contrast, results of a study published in the Journal of Behavioral Health Services and Research show that one half of urban residents visit a physician or mental health specialist for help with memory difficulties related to Alzheimer's disease. As reported by the University of Florida Health Science Center, a lack of transportation, the stigma of mental disease, and denial may prevent older rural residents from seeking help for their memory problems.

A study conducted in Great Britain shows that cholesterol-lowering drugs may also lower the risk of having a heart attack or stroke in some persons. The study, published in the New York Times, reported that the risk is lowered by one-third in people at high risk for these conditions. The 20,536 patients from 69 hospitals were divided into four groups receiving simvastatin and vitamin, placebo-simvastatin and vitamin, or a combination of placebo and actual agent. The study results can only be applied to persons with risk factors for heart attack or stroke.

A cow by any other name … Sixty thousand “cows” impregnated with a blend of cow smell and insecticide deadly to the disease-carrying tsetse fly are helping to reduce the incidence of illness and insecticide use in Africa, reports BMJ. The fake bovines, placed in Zimbabwe by an international team of researchers, are remarkably unlike cows in appearance, but thankfully smell moovelous to the flighty pests, which transmit sleeping sickness, a disease currently affecting more than 60 million people in 36 countries.

Some children may become bad apples because of delinquent vision. Study results published in the Journal of Behavioral Optometry, as reported in U.S. News & World Report, show that poor close vision leads to reading and self-esteem problems, and that these may lead to behavior problems. Of the 50 teens studied in a state court system, 74 percent had vision delinquencies. This percentage is much greater than the percentage of nonoffenders with vision problems.

Most patients with ventricular tachyarrhythmias are not taking their doctor's orders to heart and are heading for the highway, according to study results published in the New England Journal of Medicine. Of 758 patients who participated in the Antiarrhythmics versus Implantable Defibrillators trial and completed a survey, the majority (627) resumed driving early, even while experiencing possible symptoms of arrhythmia. Despite this, the annual 3.4 percent probability crash rate of those surveyed remains much lower than the annual probability crash rate of the general U.S. population, which is a whopping 7.1 percent.

Patients may want information more than empathy from their doctors when confronted with bad news, according to results of a survey presented at the American Society of Clinical Oncology and reported in Internal Medicine News. In the study, conducted at the M.D. Anderson Cancer Center in Houston and completed by 351 patients recently diagnosed with cancer, high-ranking responses included “doctor being up-to-date on research on my type of cancer” and “having the doctor take the time to answer all my questions.” Items near the bottom of the list included “doctor holding my hand/touching my arm when giving news” and “telling me it is okay if I get upset.”

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