Posts tagged ‘death’

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!

June 20, 2014

We Love… The National Stroke Association!

Does the face look uneven by Charles Hope via Flickr Copyright Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0)Just to be clear, we love the National Stroke Association, which is the opposite of loving strokes. After our series on vascular imaging as well reporting on recent studies on stroke prevention, it’s important to talk about the warning signs, additional prevention and what can be done if someone is suspected of having a stroke.

 

In health, action is everything.- for strokes, time means brain.The longer those neurons or brain cells go without blood flow, the greater their chance of death and loss of function. The sooner we  react to a situation, the better the chances of recovery. This is why it’s important to know the signs of a stroke and what to do if one is happening.

 

First, if you believe a stroke is occurring, call 911 immediately. What are signs of a stroke? They are sudden and can include any of the following: numbness, weakness, confusion, trouble seeing, walking or speaking, and/or severe headache. Nerve changes like numbness and weakness may occur on only one side of the body. Act immediately – time equals brain!

 

Risks for cerebrovascular disease and stroke include modifiable and nonmodifiable risk factors. The National Stroke Association has an excellent breakdown of the many, many potential risk factors here. If you have any of these risk factors, from family history of strokes, to diabetes or high blood pressure (to name just a few), extra vigilance and modification of those factors you can control is key.

 

Strokes are disorienting experiences and can present with a wide spectrum of findings, based on which part of the brain is being affected. For an insightful first-person account, Jill Bolte Taylor’s TEDtalk about her experience (“My Stroke of Insight”) is a fascinating video.

 

Because of all their hard work toward the best possible health for all, we love The National Stroke Association. And if you like them too, you can do so here!

(Image Attribution: Does the face look uneven? by Charles Hope via Flickr Copyright Creative CommonsAttribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0))

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

 

June 18, 2014

The Study Is Out: Animal Proteins and Strokes

 

Copper river sockeye smoked salmon mit salat und crumpet 07.04.2012 20-30-53 by Dirk Ingo Franke via Wikimedia Commons Copyright Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 UnportedNow that we’ve discussed carotid Doppler, CT angiography and MR angiography, here’s a reminder that we are advocates for an ounce of prevention over a pound of cure. Preventing vascular disease is much better than detecting it!

 

According to a recent analysis of seven health studies, one of the best ways to fight stroke is by a healthy diet (pause to act surprised here). One key to that healthy diet is lean animal protein (okay, you’re allowed to be surprised now).

 

The study showed that as lean protein intake increases, stroke risk decreases. This study included over 250,000 patients but was focused on those living in countries where unsaturated, lean proteins like fish are popular. Those who ate 20 additional grams of protein a day had a 26% lower risk of stroke. What is behind the reduced risk is less well-understood. Likely, there are multiple factors involved. For instance, a protein-rich diet can also naturally include extra nutrients like potassium, magnesium and dietary fiber, all of which may be stroke deterrents.

 

We should not take this study to mean increase your protein intake without considering the type or quality of the protein -lean animal protein seems to be the key here. While the occasional steak or hamburger is acceptable, increasing your daily dietary intake of these type proteins will not yield the same results seen in this study.

 

The long and the short of it is this: a careful diet is good for you; proteins, including lean animal proteins, seem to help with reducing stroke risk. For further reading, there are articles summarizing the findings here and here.


For your best vascular health, don’t smoke, keep cholesterol and glucose levels healthy, and consider a diet focused on healthy lean proteins.

June 13, 2014

Vascular Series Part 3 – MRA

MRAAs part of our continuing series on vascular health and imaging, we’d like to talk about another way of seeing into your body and imaging blood vessels: MR angiography, or magnetic resonance angiography.

 

MR angiography is different than CT angiography in that it uses MRI or magnetic resonance imaging with no radiation. This is a benefit of MR angiography.  MR angiography may or may not require use of an IV injection. When needed, MR angiography uses a different type of contrast material for injection – gadolinium-based instead of iodine-based. This is particularly helpful for people with iodine-contrast allergies or poor kidney function.

 

MR angiography can be used to image the blood vessels and blood flow. The procedure can produce some truly beautiful pictures of blood vessels (the physics behind creating those images is fascinating – and complex!). The vessel walls and adjacent tissues can be seen, as opposed to traditional angiography which shows only the vessel lumen or the inside of the vessel. CTA is the best tool for showing the walls of the vessels themselves.

 

So, what do we use MRA for?

 

We can use it to evaluate almost any artery or vein in the body. For example, MR angiography of the head (usually done without contrast) is helpful when looking for aneurysms (saclike outpouchings arising from blood vessels which can be deadly or disabling if they bleed) or areas of artery narrowing. To evaluate the abdominal aorta, we can look for aneurysms (abnormal dilatation) or dissection (when there is a tear in the vessel creating two channels). We may be asked to evaluate the renal arteries for narrowings- renal artery stenosis is one of the treatable causes of high blood pressure.  MR angiography can also be used to examine the leg arteries when needing to evaluate for causes of pain when walking.

As we have discussed, there are lots of ways of imaging the blood vessels. Often, ultrasound with Doppler is used first to see if there is a need for further investigation. CT angiography or MR angiography can further define the vessels and identify problems that may need to be addressed either surgically or with interventional radiology procedures (angioplasty, stenting). Traditional catheter angiography is often reserved for those cases that will benefit from vascular intervention.

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

 

June 11, 2014

Vascular Series Part 2 – What Is CT Angiography (CTA)?

CTACT angiography, or computed tomography angiography, (now you see why we like to call it CT angiography- such a mouthful!) is a way of imaging the blood vessels and surrounding tissues.

 

Why would we do that? CT angiography is a noninvasive way to exquisitely evaluate blood vessels within the body. With a simple venous injection of contrast we can quickly and elaborately evaluate the artery, the wall of the artery and the surrounding tissues.  Let’s look at an example. Say we need to evaluate patients with suspected narrowing in the neck arteries – CT angiography may follow an abnormal carotid Doppler to confirm how narrow the vessel is and to see if surgery will be necessary. It will show calcifications and noncalcified plaques and show how they affect the lumen (inside of the vessel) of the artery. This test is helpful in planning any necessary surgeries.

 

CT angiography can also be used to look at the arteries in the head for patients with strokes from bleeds. Aneurysms  (focal outpouchings) and their relation to the vessel are well seen and this procedure can help plan interventions needed to address them.

 

So now we know why we need to perform CT angiography, it begs the question, why is this modality of imaging the best choice for a situation? In the past, catheter angiography was the traditional way of imaging blood vessels of all types. However, it involves  putting a catheter through the skin into vessels, usually with an approach through the groin or in the arm. This creates beautiful images of the insides of the vessels, but is associated with some risks related to the catheter and the arterial puncture.

 

CT allows us to get exquisite images of the vessels with an injection into a vein in a less risky fashion while also allowing us to see the blood vessel wall – not just the lumen as is seen in traditional angiography. CT angiography can be used to evaluate blood vessels from the head to the toes and most parts in between.

In some cases, CT angiography has replaced or nearly replaced the need for catheter angiography (CT angiography chest to evaluate for pulmonary emboli or blood clots in the vessels in the lungs is one example). Other times, CT angiography will identify those patients that will benefit from catheter angiography – often this is used when interventions like angioplasty (ballooning narrowed areas in the arteries) or stenting (putting in metal or mesh stents to open up narrowings) are needed.

 

All told, CT angiography may be a lot of syllables but it can save a lot of lives.

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

 

June 6, 2014

Vascular Series Part 1 – Carotid Doppler Screening

Carotid ultrasound by National Heart Lung and Blood Insitute (NIH) via Wikimedia Commons Copyright Public DomainEveryone’s heard of cardiovascular disease, which is the leading killer of men and women in our country, but for many the term brings to mind only heart disease.

 

Being heart-health focused is great! But having healthy arteries is also critical to health and longevity. There are 795,000 US citizens affected by stroke each year. Strokes can be caused by blockage of blood flow in the vessels leading to or in the brain or bleeding from vessels in the brain.

 

Both cause death of cells in the brain if not treated promptly. Death of neurons can result in significant disabilities or death. Risks for the development of strokes include age, smoking, high cholesterol, diabetes, high blood pressure, family history, as well as heart conditions including atrial fibrillation, inactivity, obesity (just to name a few). One of the best things a person can do to fight this disease is to stay active!

 

Thickening of the arteries which go to the brain (atherosclerosis) can lead to strokes. Blood flow can become blocked by clot, or plaques lining the arteries can break off and travel to the smaller vessels in the brain causing blockages.

 

One noninvasive way of looking at these conditions of the carotid arteries in the neck is with Doppler.  This is an ultrasound technique which can show blood flow in vessels. Narrowing of vessels causes an increase in the velocity of flow through them (much the same as increasing the rate of flow through your garden hose by holding your thumb over and narrowing the opening).

 

Doppler will look at the velocities in the arteries in the neck allowing us to find areas of narrowing. Doppler can estimate the degree of narrowing by looking at the velocities. Ultrasound of the arteries also allows us to see the wall and plaques causing the narrowing.

 

Carotid Doppler can be indicated to evaluate patients with mini-stroke symptoms or those at high risk for strokes. Sometimes carotid Doppler is indicated in high risk patients who are undergoing surgery for preoperative assessment of stroke risk.

 

If you’d like to know more about how to stay (or get!) heart and vessel healthy, we recommend the American Heart Association’s website.

(Image credit: Carotid ultrasound by National Heart Lung and Blood Institute (NIH) via Wikimedia Commons Copyright Public Domain)

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

 

March 4, 2014

Effective, Cost Effective, Life-saving CTs

Lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer deaths in the United States. The number of people dying from lung cancer in the US per year is greater that the number of deaths from breast, prostate and colon cancer combined. Despite the scope of the problem of lung cancer, early detection has been the subject of debate. Recent studies have shown that low-dose CT screening for lung cancer in high-risk smokers can reduce cancer deaths. The detection of small lung cancers before spreading outside the lungs has been shown to save lives.

According to a newly published study, there’s more good news about CT lung screening for smokers age 55-75. This study shows the success of CT screening out in the communities – not just in academic centers. Naturally, the best way to save lives from lung cancer is to never use tobacco or to stop using it. But as long as patients are fighting the uphill battle for lung health, it is keenly important to fight it on all fronts, from prevention to early detection.

For successful lung cancer screening, CT scans must be “low dose”, referred to as LDCT. We are always conscious of and try to limit radiation dose wherever possible in our practice. The principle of imaging is using the lowest dose possible to achieve the images we need. Studies have shown we can safely use LDCT for early detection of lung cancer. This study in particular shows that low dose CT programs can hit the trifecta of helpfulness: they are effective in finding lung cancer, can be performed cost-effectively and can save lives. There you have it.

The January recommendation from the US Preventative Services Task Force said that high-risk patients could benefit greatly from regular low-dose CT screenings. This is timely news as the US Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services are currently determining coverage feasibility. This recent study shows that execution and efficacy are possible!

Hopefully, we will be seeing programs develop and expand as a result of these findings. For those at high risk, lung cancer screening with low dose CT and early detection can be life changing and life saving.