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Am Fam Physician. 2002;65(10):1987

Talk to your patients about engaging in moderate exercise, and you may just get them off the couch and on the path to better health. An article in the Mayo Clinic Proceedings encourages family physicians to routinely discuss the benefits of moderate exercise with their patients because even a little bit of activity has been shown to reduce the chance of developing many chronic health conditions, including diabetes, obesity, and cardiovascular disease. The authors point out that doctors can help reduce the burden of exercise that many patients feel by presenting options that can be easily integrated into daily life, such as walking 10 to 15 minutes twice a day or raking the yard.

What are teenagers doing online? Well, they're not always buying clothes or downloading the latest music. They're also looking up information about pregnancy, sexually transmitted diseases, and other health issues. According to results of a telephone survey conducted by the Kaiser Family Foundation and published in Family Practice News, 68 percent of 1,209 teenagers and young adults said they have looked for health information online. More than half of those who searched the Web for health information said that what they found influenced them to change their behavior. Pretty alarming news, considering that only 29 percent said they checked the source of the information they downloaded.

How do you lower your risk of having a fatal stroke? In the words of one researcher: “Don't worry, be happy.” Study results presented at the American Stroke Association's International Stroke conference show that family difficulties can increase the risk of a fatal stroke, reports JAMA. According to a retrospective study conducted in Israel of 364 men who had fatal strokes, the greater a person's perceived family and financial stresses, the greater chance that person will die from stroke. The discovery was one of four new risk factors introduced at the meeting. Others were small stature, abdominal obesity, and lower education level.

The risk of dying in the hospital after coronary artery bypass graft (CABG) surgery is greater for younger women than for men, according to a study published in Circulation. Researchers examined the outcomes of 51,187 patients hospitalized for CABG (30 percent of these patients were women). Results showed that women less than 50 years of age were three times as likely to die after the procedure than men. Researchers say more study is needed to determine the cause of the increased risk in younger women.

A study published in BMJ shows that deliveries in which the woman was not aware of her pregnancy until she went into labor occur three times more often than triplets. “Come again?” Of the 29,462 births in Berlin between July 1995 and June 1996, 62 women did not realize they were pregnant until after 20 weeks' gestation. In 25 of these women, the diagnosis was made during labor. Denial may be stronger than we think!

How “connected” is your practice? According to the results of an American Medical Association survey published in American Medical News, most physicians' offices (96 percent) use computers, are hooked up to a network (85 percent), and have access to the Internet (75 percent). The survey finds that more than one third of responding practices are using computers to exchange data such as patient demographics, laboratory reports, and insurance claims. But while most physicians' groups are technologically savvy, few spend large amounts of money to stay connected.

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Copyright © 2002 by the American Academy of Family Physicians.

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