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Am Fam Physician. 2004;70(4):641

According to a summary of study results from the National Safekids Campaign, only 41 percent of children aged five to 14 years wear helmets when they are on roller skates, bicycles, or scooters, and 35 percent of these children do not wear their helmets correctly. These are important statistics because head injuries are responsible for 80 percent of bicycle-related deaths.

“Tag, you’re it!” A study published in The Journal of Pediatrics showed that exercise improves vascular function in obese children. Fourteen obese children (six boys, eight girls) and seven average-weight children (two boys, five girls) played games like soccer or tag, or jogged for an hour three times a week, for two months. Although this amount of exercise did not decrease their weight, it did increase vascular endothelial function in the obese children by about 25 percent.

Although caring for a loved one can bring people closer together, it also can have serious health effects for the caregiver. According to Newsweek, more than 20 million American households have care-givers. Caring for a loved one has been linked to a weakened immune system, depression, and premature death in the caretaker. A study at the University of Pittsburgh found that caretakers physically or psychologically strained by their responsibilities were 63 percent more likely to die prematurely than noncaregivers.

Overweight and obese women have an increased likelihood of having a false-positive mammogram, according to a study published in the Archives of Internal Medicine. The study analyzed mammography examinations performed on 100,622 women older than 40 years in the northwest United States. The study results showed that women with a body mass index (BMI) greater than 30 were 20 percent more likely to have a false-positive mammogram compared with women who had a BMI less than 25; women with a BMI between 25 and 29 had a 14 percent increased risk.

Tai chi may be good for patients with congestive heart failure. A pilot study published in Family Practice News found that patients who participated in tai chi classes had increased six-minute walk test distances and improved B-type natriuretic peptide levels. The study randomly assigned 30 patients with left ventricular ejection fractions of less than 40 percent to no intervention (n = 15) or to one-hour tai chi classes twice a week (n = 15). In the patients who practiced tai chi, the mean distance walked during the six-minute walk test increased by 277 feet, and the B-type natriuretic peptide levels fell by 48 pg per mL. These patients also noted improvement in their quality of life.

Think you’ve had your fill of HIPAA regulations at the office? Get ready—you may encounter the same regulations when you take Fido to the vet. As reported in MSNBC’s online Health Library, confidentiality rules now are being applied in many veterinary practices. One example is the University of Georgia’s veterinary hospital, which discloses health information only to a pet’s owner. No photos of an animal can be taken without the owner’s consent, and owners of large animals may not stand outside the stalls of animals that do not belong to them.

If respiratory and heart diseases don’t deter your patients from smoking, how about the possibility of impotence, cervical cancer, miscarriage, or infertility? A recent study conducted in the United Kingdom and published in BMJ just might capture the attention of some smokers. According to the findings of this study, about 120,000 U.K. men (aged 30 to 50 years) are impotent because of smoking. Furthermore, smoking is a factor in about 1,200 cases of cervical cancer and between 3,000 and 5,000 miscarriages each year. In addition, women who smoke reduce their chance of becoming pregnant by up to 40 percent, and couples who smoke are less likely to be successful with infertility treatment.

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