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News to Live By - Spring 2010

By Jackie Powder


Doctors Prescribe More Psychotropic Drugs

Between 1996 and 2006, psychiatrists in the U.S. prescribed more psychotropic medications to patients, with an increasing number of prescriptions for two or more medications, writes Ramin Mojtabai, MD, PhD, MPH, an associate professor in Mental Health, in the January 2010 edition of Archives of General Psychiatry. An analysis of 13,000 office-based psychiatry visits found that prescriptions for two or more medications increased from 42.6 percent to 59.8 percent over the survey period, and prescriptions for three or more drugs increased from 16.9 percent to 33.2 percent.


Divorce Detrimental to Your Health

The extreme stress of a divorce or the death of a spouse exacts long-term physical and mental health problems even if a person remarries or finds happiness in another relationship, according to a report  published in the September 2009 issue of Journal of Health and Social Behavior. Lead author Mary Elizabeth Hughes, PhD, MA, assistant professor in Population, Family and Reproductive Health, found that divorced or widowed people have 20 percent more chronic health conditions, such as heart disease, diabetes or cancer.


A Better Predictor of Diabetes

Measuring hemoglobin A1c (HbA1c) more accurately predicts future diabetes than the commonly used measure of fasting glucose, and better predicts stroke, heart disease and all-cause mortality, according to a study published in the March 4 issue of New England Journal of Medicine. Lead author Elizabeth Selvin, PhD, MPH, assistant professor in Epidemiology, and colleagues, found that people with HbA1c levels between 5.0 and 5.5 percent are within normal range and that those who tested between 6.0 and 6.5 are considered at very high risk for developing diabetes.