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Noteworthy: Coffee Buzz, Brain Buzz; Can't Sleep? Don't Go To Vegas


Noteworthy items from Physicians Practice

Coffee Buzz, Brain Buzz

Coffee drinkers, rejoice. That early morning kick you so desire may not be so bad a habit after all. In fact, it may actually be helping your brain.

A study conducted at the University of South Florida and published in the Journal of Alzheimer's Disease found that forgetful mice (they had been bred to develop symptoms mimicking Alzheimer's) experienced memory gains after drinking coffee.

But not just any coffee - it had to be caffeinated.

The caffeinated coffee increased blood levels of GCSF in the mice (the substance decreased in human Alzheimer's patients). The mice with higher GCSF, in a series of tests, displayed better memories.

The Marriage Perk - For Men

It's already clear that being married decreases the risk of death from cardiovascular causes - but why? Canadian Researchers think they found one reason.

In a study of heart attack victims published in The Canadian Medical AssociationJournal, researchers found that married individuals sought treatment for heart attack symptoms faster than singles.

But when the researchers analyzed the data they found a surprising trend.

While married men were 60 percent more likely to arrive at hospitals sooner than single men, there was no significant difference in arrival times between married and single women.

Why? Perhaps women push their husbands to seek help sooner when health problems arise.

Can't Sleep? Don't Go To Vegas

Neurologists at two Duke University Medical Schools found that sleep-deprived individuals experience increased optimism. Sounds great, right? Well, here's the rub: As a result, they tend to make risky decisions.

Using a functional MRI, the neurologists tracked brain signals in 29 study participants - once after a normal night of sleep, and once after a night of sleep deprivation.

They found that tiredness leads to increased activity in brain regions that assess positive outcomes, while reducing activity in brain areas that analyze negative outcomes. The combination: increased optimism and a higher tolerance for risk.

In a series of monetary decision-making tasks related to gambling, the sleep-deprived study participants tended to make choices that emphasized monetary gain, and they were less likely to make choices that reduced loss. The more exhausted they were they less likely they were to (literally) hedge their bets.

The study was published in the Journal of Neuroscience.

Comic Therapy

Healthcare providers are using comics to help treat patients and better relate to them.

Earlier this year, physicians attended a conference entitled "Comics & Medicine: The Sequential Art of Illness," at Northwestern's medical and law schools in Chicago.

The attendees discussed ways to use comics to create visual representations of emotions, health problems, and health crises.

The hope is that viewing images, and creating them, can help patients better process health issues; and help physicians empathize with patients.

The conference was sponsored in part by Jean Schulz, widow of Charles M. Schulz, the "Peanuts" creator.

Why You Should Blog

In a recent Physicians Practice blog post, Dr. Craig Koniver writes that blogging is the "best tool" for physicians to market themselves to current and prospective patients.

Here's why:

• It makes you an individual: It showcases what sets you apart from other providers.
• It makes you human: It allows patients relate to you and trust your advice.
• It builds rapport: It helps patients feel comfortable with you

Recommended Web Site

Nearly 40 percent of American adults use at least one form of alternative medicine, and they seldom discuss this usage with their physicians, according to the National Institutes of Health.

To help providers deal with such issues, NIH launched a new website earlier this year,, to help physicians learn about the efficacy and safety of alternative treatments. The site is filled with evidence-based resources such as research results and clinical practice guidelines, on topics such as dietary supplements, herbs, acupuncture, chiropractic, and massage, for physicians and patients to discuss together.

This article originally appeared in the September 2011 issue of Physicians Practice.

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