Posts tagged ‘Calcium’

September 17, 2014

There’s a Better Way To Calculate Body Fat (and We’ve Got It!)

3D-printed Laughing Buddha (right) by Digital Nuisance via Flickr Copyright Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic (CC BY-SA 2.0)Obesity and its negative effects on our collective health has been covered repeatedly in the news. There are ways of defining being overweight or obese, most based on height, weight and body mass index (BMI). Body composition is another means of analyzing percentage of body fat, and another tool to help guide and follow treatment.

 

Let’s start with the numbers: accurate weight and height are a starting point. Getting your body mass index (which you can do here once you have your height and weight) is helpful in determining whether your weight is appropriate for your height. But to be truly accurate about weight, body fat and its affect on health, knowing what percentage of your body tissue is fat specifically can be helpful. Here is where radiology can help: DEXA is the most accurate means of assessing body composition.

 

DEXA is known most commonly for measuring bone mineral density. This can identify those with osteoporosis or those beginning to show signs of bone loss. Knowing your bone mineral density is increasingly important with age, and preventing fractures is a goal.

 

DEXA (or Dual Energy X-ray Absorptiometry if you want to know the words behind the acronym) is the most accurate method of assessing body composition. A DEXA scan is a medical test and is considered the Gold Standard in body composition testing with over 99% accuracy. This imaging technique using low dose x-rays can evaluate bone density, fat density and lean body mass. DEXA gives a total picture of body composition, useful for planning a course of action and then seeing the success (we’ll think positive!) of those actions.

 

Eating well, exercising regularly, talking to your doctor or consulting with a dietician are all actions that can help you on the way to better numbers. Decreasing body fat percentage while maintaining healthy lean body mass is the goal. Decreasing body fat percentage is as significant as overall weight loss to your health.

 

So start with your numbers and move from there. You have the power to get yourself on the road to your best possible health! And we’re happy to help in any way we can, from sharing healthy recipes to exercise tips and tricks to advising you on your DEXA scores to cheering you on and educating you along the way! If you follow us on Pinterest you’ll see more ideas everyday!

(Image attribution: 3D-printed Laughing Buddha (right) by Digital Nuisance via Flickr Copyright Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic (CC BY-SA 2.0))

Diagnostic Imaging Centers blogs on regularly about women’s health at www.mammographykc.com and general radiology at www.diagnosticimagingcenterskc.com. Visit our sites for more helpful information!

April 8, 2014

Bone Density: What Is DEXA?

Diagnostic Imaging Centers DEXA scanner

Diagnostic Imaging Centers DEXA scanner

Dual photon x-ray absorbtiometry? That sounds like something that happened to Bruce Banner (okay, those were gamma rays…). But we promise, you won’t turn green from what is more simply known as a DEXA scan.

 

A DEXA scan is also called a bone density scan. This test is used to test your bone density and determine your risk for future fracture.  This test involves a small amount of radiation and evaluates the density or strength of your bones. It can analyze different bones, but is most often used to evaluate the spine and hip.

 

An exam takes 10 minutes and is easy for most: all you have to do is hold still while lying on your back and our computers will do the rest. On the day of your exam you will be asked to avoid taking any calcium supplements as they interfere with the test. If you have metal in your back or hip like a spinal fusion rod or hip replacement your exam will be slightly different.  For these cases we use another bone for analysis, typically the forearm.

 

The test will calculate a score which estimates fracture risk. All sorts of data are taken into account, from age to gender to race, and your bone density will be compared to a healthy 30-year-old’s average.

 

Bone density results will fall into three ranges: normal, osteopenia or osteoporotic. Osteoporosis is the loss of bone mass often found in the elderly which makes bones brittle or weak and susceptible to breaking. Osteopenia indicates bone density less than expected but not yet reaching osteoporosis levels. While osteoporosis is serious with serious implications for future health, it is also treatable – and treat it is what we want for you! If you show signs of bone density loss there are a variety of medication options and lifestyle changes which can be considered.

 

While a DEXA can’t cure what ails, it can help target and identify what does so that treatment can be started to get you on the road to your best possible health!

(Photo credit: DEXA scanner at the Diagnostic Imaging Centers)

Diagnostic Imaging Centers blogs on regularly about women’s health at www.mammographykc.com and general radiology at www.diagnosticimagingcenterskc.com. Visit our sites for more helpful information!

February 11, 2014

Heart Health: CT Coronary Calcium Score

One image from a coronary calcium  score showing calcifications (which show up as bright white, like the bones) in the wall of the coronary arteries at a level just above the heart.

One image from a coronary calcium score showing calcifications (which show up as bright white, like the bones) in the wall of the coronary arteries at a level just above the heart.

It’s heart month! We are joining with the American Heart Association in trying to raise awareness of the leading killer of women and men. In the past, we’ve explained the basics of a CT scan,  and today we’d like to talk about a specific use of the technology to obtain a CT Coronary Calcium Score.

A Coronary Calcium Score is a scan of the heart which evaluates the arteries for the presence of calcium. Calcium build up in the arteries is one part of coronary atherosclerosis – the process by which arteries are narrowed by buildup of plaque, both calcified and noncalcified (soft). Finding calcium in the arteries of the heart indicates coronary artery disease and is associated with an increased risk of future cardiovascular events, like heart attacks.

Obtaining a calcium score is a simple, quick, painless procedure. You will have EKG leads placed and then a quick scan of the heart will be done with the CT machine. No contrast is needed. Your study will be reviewed by your radiologist with computer assisted analysis. All calcium related to the coronary (heart) arteries will be identified, and a summation of the amount of calcium present will be reported. The score will be compared with others of the same age and sex.

The calcium score will give an estimate of the likelihood of significant coronary artery disease. It is important to remember that not all coronary artery disease will be calcified. Soft areas of plaque will not be found by this technique.

Coronary calcium score is a useful tool to consider for anyone in an intermediate risk category for heart disease or in some low-risk patients, especially those with a family history of early heart disease (before the age of 55 in a man or 65 in a woman).

What places someone in an intermediate risk category? Things like smoking, a family history of heart disease or high cholesterol can be factors. To determine your risk for heart disease, the Mayo Clinic has an excellent tool, found here. In intermediate and low risk patients, a calcium score can be an important independent predictor of the risk of future heart problems.

Recently, the American College of Radiology has reviewed the recommendations to determine the relative importance of getting a calcium score for different risk category patients. Their thorough statement and review can be found here.

For all, remember that cardiovascular disease is a leading killer. Take action to find out your risks and ways you can improve your heart health.