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Am Fam Physician. 2006;73(9):1505

Civil War veterans suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder, according to a study in the Archives of General Psychiatry. Using a database managed by the University of Chicago, researchers analyzed the medical records of more than 15,000 Union Army soldiers. The researchers found that Civil War soldiers who saw more death in battle had higher rates of illness later in life. Researchers also found that younger soldiers were more likely than older soldiers to suffer from postwar mental and physical illness. (Arch Gen Psychiatry, February 2006)

Children's behavior problems may influence the severity of their asthma, according to a new study published in Pediatrics. The study authors analyzed surveys taken by parents with children entering kindergarten in an urban school district. Data were collected on the medical history and behavior of 1,619 children. Eight percent of children in the study had persistent asthma and 15 percent had experienced some form of asthma symptoms. When the asthma symptoms and behavior were compared, the children with persistent asthma had the worst behavior scores in social skills, including fighting with or hurting other children. The children with persistent asthma also were more likely to have trouble concentrating than children with intermittent or no asthma symptoms. (Pediatrics, February 2006)

Being angry may be dangerous to your health. Study results published in the Annals of Family Medicine claim that people presenting to the emergency department with an injury are more likely to report feeling angry just before being injured. The authors surveyed 2,517 patients at the emergency department about their mind-set at the time they were hurt. Another 1,533 uninjured people were then surveyed about their anger levels on an average day. Approximately 33 percent of the injured patients claimed to be irritable just before the injury, 18 percent said they were angry, and 13.2 percent said they were hostile. The authors found that the injured patients, especially men and those patients whose injuries were caused by another person, were more likely to express higher levels of anger. (Ann Fam Med, January/February 2006)

Quit snoring! According to the preliminary results of a study by researchers at the Rush University Medical Center in Chicago, Ill., spouses who snore can cause marital strife. In the study, 10 men with sleep apnea and their wives were monitored to determine the amount and quality of sleep each person was getting. The couples also completed surveys about marital satisfaction, drowsiness, and quality of life. After the men were treated for sleep apnea, the couples returned for a second round of monitoring and surveys. The researchers compared the results of the two studies and found that, before treatment, marital satisfaction was low and the women's sleep was affected by their partners' snoring. However, after treatment, the wives' quality-of-life scores were five times higher than before and their sleepiness during waking hours declined. (Rush University news release, January 31, 2006)

Can the health of your partner affect your well-being? The authors of a study in the New England Journal of Medicine say it can. The nine-year study followed more than 518,000 couples between 65 and 98 years of age. The results showed that when one spouse is hospitalized, the other spouse's risk of death significantly increases in the first 30 days and can remain higher for up to two years. Overall, women's mortality risk increased by 17 percent after the death of a partner, and men's risk increased by 21 percent. The authors believe that the stress caused by illness or death of a loved one may lead to destructive behaviors by the partner and also can adversely affect the immune system. (N Engl J Med, February 16, 2006)

Walking the dog could be more than just a daily chore. A report in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine says that dog owners participate in almost twice as much healthful walking as persons who don't have a dog. The authors evaluated 351 adults in Victoria, British Columbia, and found that dog owners walked an average of 300 minutes per week, whereas those without dogs averaged only 168 minutes per week. Surprisingly, besides walking, the dog owners in this study actually exercised less than the nonowners. (Am J Prev Med, February 2006)

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Copyright © 2006 by the American Academy of Family Physicians.

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