Guidelines

5 Steps Toward a Healthier Heart

Wednesday, May 2nd, 2018

5 Steps Toward a Healthy Heart

Approximately 610,000 people in the United States die from heart disease each year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). This means heart disease is responsible for about one in four deaths in the nation and is the leading cause of death.

Certain risk factors increase the likelihood that you will develop heart disease. Some of these risk factors are out of your control. Having a family history of  heart disease increases your risk for cardiovascular problems, for example. Fortunately, many of the risk factors for heart disease are modifiable, which means you can change them. Some of these risk factors include high blood pressure, high cholesterol, having diabetes, and being overweight.

You can change these risk factors through lifestyle choices and improve the health of your heart. These lifestyle changes can also improve your overall health and well-being.

5 Lifestyle Changes You Can Make for a Healthier Heart

 

 1. Aim for a healthy weight

Obesity puts you at increased risk for high cholesterol, high blood pressure, and resistance to insulin. The higher your body mass index (BMI), the higher your risk of heart disease. The National Institutes of Health (NIH) provides a table to help you determine your BMI.

 

2. Eat well

Eating a healthy diet is one of the best steps you can take toward having a healthy heart. The types and amounts of food you eat can influence other modifiable risk factors for heart disease. Choose a nutrient-rich, low-calorie diet that focuses on fruits, vegetables and whole grains, and avoids sweets and red meats.

 

3. Be physically active every day

Get up and move every day. Engaging in three to four 40-minute exercise sessions per week can help lower blood pressure, lower cholesterol, and help you maintain a healthy weight.

 

4. Quit smoking

Smoking damages the lining of your arteries, which can lead to the buildup of a fatty plaque and narrow the arteries. This can restrict the amount of blood flowing through the arteries, which can lead to heart attack, chest pain known as angina, and stroke.

 

5. Get checked out

Undergo regular doctor appointments and cardiovascular screening. Going to the doctor regularly gives your health care provider an opportunity to measure your blood pressure and cholesterol and to detect and treat heart disease early, before it becomes a big problem.

 

You can greatly reduce your risk for heart disease by eating well, exercising, and improving a few daily habits. For more information about steps you can take for a healthy heart, speak with a healthcare professional and contact Virtual Imaging, Inc. today. 

 

How Allergies Affect Your Lungs

Tuesday, March 27th, 2018

How Allergies Affect Your Lungs

Spring is in the air – and so are many of the allergens that cause the misery of seasonal allergies. Symptoms of seasonal allergies can cause itching and watering in your eyes, congestion and runniness in your nose, and itching in your throat. Allergies can affect your lungs to cause wheezing, coughing, and other uncomfortable signs and symptoms of seasonal allergies. Seasonal allergies can also trigger asthma, allergic bronchitis, and other lung problems.

Pollen is one of the most common triggers of allergies, according to the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America. Plants release pollen each spring, summer, and early fall. This pollen fertilizes plants of the same species of trees, grasses, and weeds. Exposure to these pollens and other allergens causes allergic reactions that can affect your lungs.

How Allergies Affect Your Lungs

Allergies can cause inflammation in your lungs. This inflammation can result in coughing, wheezing, shortness of breath, and other symptoms.

The symptoms of allergies, such as nasal congestion and watery eyes, come from inflammation of your body tissues. Allergies can also cause inflammation in your lungs. This inflammation is the result of your body’s misguided attempt to protect itself from the allergens.

Allergies can cause lung problems. Exposure to allergens can cause allergy-induced asthma, a condition in which the airways swell and produce extra mucus.

Individuals with allergies are at higher risks of developing respiratory infections, such as bronchitis. Exposure to seasonal allergies can compromise the immune system and increase mucus production, which can promote the development of bronchitis and other respiratory infections.

People can develop hypersensitivity to dust, tiny organisms, and chemicals. This hypersensitivity can cause hypersensitivity pneumonitis, a type of allergic reaction that causes inflammation of the lung’s air sacs.

How to Protect Your Lungs from Seasonal Allergies

Check the outdoor air quality levels and pollution forecasts before you venture outside. If you do go outside, scope out the environment for obvious allergy triggers.

Do gardening and lawn maintenance in the early morning or in the evening, while pollen counts are at their lowest.

Stay away from citronella candles, bug sprays, strong-smelling candles, and other seasonal products that can irritate your lungs. Opt for mosquito repellants in lotion form rather than in sprays.

Use medications as prescribed and keep your allergy medications handy.

Consult with a medical professional. Doctors can diagnose seasonal allergies, prescribe medications, and recommend imaging tests to evaluate the health of your lungs. For more information, make an appointment today with Virtual Imaging, Inc. at 770-730-0119.

 

8 Benefits of Taking Daily Walks

Tuesday, March 27th, 2018

Benefits of Taking Daily Walks

“Walking is the best medicine”

~Hippocrates

 

The “Father of Medicine” realized the benefits of walking way back around 400 BCE. Throughout the centuries, science and research proved Hippocrates’ theory about the health benefits of a daily ambulation.

Today, doctors and other health professionals still recommend taking a frequent stroll, even if you already engage in other forms of exercise.

Taking a daily walk is perhaps the best thing you can do for your health. Here are eight ways walking improves your health.

8 Ways Walking Improves Your Health

1. Improves circulation

Walking stimulates blood circulation, which improves the flow of oxygen- and nutrient-rich blood to your muscles and organs.

 

2. Boost heart health

Your heart is a muscle. Like all muscles, the more you exercise your heart muscle, the stronger it gets. Walking increases your pulse to give your heart a workout.

 

3. Lower your risk for medical problems and diseases

Walking can help lower your risk of high cholesterol, high blood pressure, and diabetes as much as running, according to the American Heart Association.

 

4. Strengthen your bones and muscles

Exercise strengthens bones and muscles. Walking strengthens the muscles in your legs, hips, and upper body. The National Institutes of Health says that weight-bearing exercise, such as walking, is the best type of exercise for strengthening your bones.

 

5. Gives you energy

A brisk walk activates various body systems to raise your pulse, increase perspiration, trigger the flow of “happy” hormones, and stimulate alertness.

 

6. Perk up your mood

Stimulating your circulation and hormone secretion improves your mood. Put a little kick in your step and smile on your face all day by taking a brisk walk in the morning.

 

7. Improves your balance and coordination

Walking improves your balance and coordination by building lower body strength. Improved balance and coordination can help reduce your risk of falling; stronger bones reduce your risk of broken bones in case you do fall.

 

8. Nearly everyone can do it

Walking is a free, easy, and convenient way to improve your health – you need nothing more than a comfortable pair of shoes. You can walk around the block, stroll through the mall, or get on a treadmill. Walking is appropriate for most people, even those with medical problems. For more information on the health benefits of walking, talk with a medical professional. Make an appointment today with Virtual Imaging, Inc. at 770-730-0119.

 

How to Improve Your Circulation

Wednesday, February 21st, 2018

How to Improve Your Circulation

If you are an adult and were to stretch all your blood vessels end to end in a straight line, they would measure nearly 100,000 miles long. Every day, the vast network of arteries, veins, and capillaries circulate about 1.2 to 1.5 gallons of blood throughout the body. Arteries deliver oxygen- and nutrient-rich blood to body tissues and cells, while veins carry away toxins and waste products.

A healthy circulatory system delivers all the oxygen and nutrients cells and tissues need to function, and removes toxic byproducts of cell function. An unhealthy circulatory system, by comparison, does a poor job of delivering nutrients and carrying away byproducts. Poor circulation leaves body cells and tissues at risk of oxygen deprivation and exposure to harmful toxins.  

Symptoms of poor circulation include:

  • Numbness
  • Tingling
  • Throbbing or stinging pain in your hands or feet
  • Pain
  • Muscle cramps

Conditions that cause poor circulation can cause additional symptoms. Peripheral artery disease (PAD) may cause erectile dysfunction, for example. Blood clots can block the flow of blood partially or entirely; a blood clot that breaks free may result in a stroke. Varicose veins can cause the appearance of twisted, enlarged veins in your lower legs.

Steps for Improving Circulation

 

Exercise more

Engaging in physical activity is one of the best ways to improve your circulation. Exercise makes your heart work harder, which causes your blood to move faster through your blood vessels. Exercise also helps keep your blood vessels flexible, so that they can stretch as needed to accommodate the increased blood flow.

 

Lose weight

Your arteries carry blood downward from your heart to your feet. Your veins must fight gravity to bring blood back upwards towards the heart. Excess weight makes it even harder for your veins to move your blood upwards out of your lower legs. A 2009 study showed that losing weight helped improve circulation in overweight women.

 

Practice yoga

A 2014 scientific review of evidence showed that practicing yoga benefited the cardiovascular system. Certain yoga positions, such as downward-facing dog, are especially effective at improving circulation. The downward-facing dog position puts your hips and heart above your head, which allows blood to circulate up into your head more easily.

 

Eat oily fish

Oily fish, such as, mackerel and salmon, contain omega-3 fatty acids known to be beneficial for the heart and blood vessels.

 

Participate in screening

Early detection of circulatory problems can improve treatment outcomes. Your doctor can order blood tests, ultrasounds, and computed tomography (CT) scans to assess the health of your circulatory system. For more information on ways to improve your circulation, consult with your doctor or other healthcare professional. Make an appointment today with Virtual Imaging, Inc. Imaging Center at 770-730-0119.

 

Enjoy Better Heart Health in the New Year with these 5 Easy Resolutions

Wednesday, January 3rd, 2018

Enjoy Better Heart Health

Put your heart into your New Year’s resolutions this year – literally! Make this the year that you improve your cardiovascular health and increase your chances for a long and healthy life.

5 Resolutions for a Healthier Heart in the New Year

1. Drink more water

Water helps you stay hydrated, and staying hydrated makes it easier for your heart to pump blood through blood vessels, according to the American Heart Association. Your heart does not have to work as hard when you are hydrated.

2. Eat less processed food

Processed food contains a significant amount of salt, calories, and sugar that are bad for heart health. Instead, opt for whole, fresh foods whenever possible. Vegetables and whole grains contain dietary fiber, which fill you up so you feel more satisfied after a meal. Eating bowl of oatmeal instead of a breakfast burrito or a handful of walnuts instead of a candy bar can lower your cholesterol and improve your heart health.

3. Address health problems

Certain health issues, such as high blood pressure and being overweight or obese, can negatively affect your heart health. Resolve to take your blood pressure medication each day and lose weight.

4. Exercise more

To improve your overall heart health, the American Heart Association suggests that you aim for at least 75 minutes of vigorous exercise weekly or 150 minutes of moderate exercise per week. You can also combine moderate and vigorous activity, or divide your exercise time into two or three segments every day.

Even if you cannot meet the time goals set by the American Heart Association, any exercise is better than none at all. Find a couple of heart healthy activities you really enjoy, such as swimming or cycling, so that you will stay interested. Work out at the same time every day to cultivate your resolution into a daily habit.

5. Make an appointment for a heart scan

Virtual imaging with the EBT C300 scanner allows for precise imaging and mapping of your beating heart without blurring and without the need for medication. In other words, this type of heart scan is a fast, easy way to create a clear image of your heart that helps your doctor assess your risk for cardiac disease. Make an appointment with Virtual Imaging, Inc. Imaging Center at 770-730-0119.

A new year means it is time for a new you. Make heart health your number one resolution on this New Year’s Day.

 

How to Keep Your Body Warm and Healthy This Winter

Saturday, December 23rd, 2017

How to Keep Your Body Warm and Healthy

Cold weather can cause health problems. A drop in temperature increases your blood pressure, which places an extra burden on your heart. Your body also has to work harder to stay warm during cold weather, and this too causes your heart to work harder. Sharp increases in blood pressure combined with the extra burden on your heart increases your risk for heart attack. This is especially true if you have an underlying heart condition or are shoveling snow.

Warm blood circulates through blood vessels to the rest of your body. When exposed to extremely cold temperatures, though, your body starts to shut down circulation to your extremities so that it can focus on delivering warm blood to your vital organs at the center of your body. The loss of blood in your fingers and toes allows your skin there to get very cold; the icy temperatures then damage tissue cells to cause frostnip and frostbite.

The cold temperatures of winter can also be hard on your lungs. Cold air is usually dry air, and dry air can play havoc on people with lung problems. Dry air irritates their airways, and this can cause wheezing, coughing, and shortness of breath.

How to Stay Warm and Healthy During Winter

Eat well. Have you ever noticed that you prefer cool fruits, light salads, and smaller portions during the heat of summer, but crave hot and hearty stews, soups, and casseroles during cold weather? That is your body trying to tell you that you need to eat a few more calories to stay warm. Your body works like a furnace, burning fuel in the form of calories to stay warm.

Dress in layers. Start with a close-fitting base layer to wick away sweat, add insulating mid layers, and finish with a looser-fitting wind- or waterproof outer layer. Add a hat and scarf that covers your face and mouth to keep your skin warm and to warm the air as you inhale, and mittens to protect your fingers from frostbite. Wear water-resistant boots to maintain body heat.

Keep an eye on the air temperature. As you age, your body becomes less sensitive to temperature so you may not realize that you need to get warm until the cold has already caused harm.

Bring your inhaler or other quick-relief medications with you when you go out into cold air.

For more information on keeping your body warm, talk to your doctor. Reduce your risk for underlying diseases, such as heart problems or lung problems, through regular health scans. Make an appointment today with Virtual Imaging, Inc. Imaging Center at 770-730-0119.

 

Importance of Yearly Check-Ups

Saturday, December 23rd, 2017

Importance of Yearly Checkups

Yearly checkups can help your doctor detect and treat minor problems before they become major illnesses. Many health problems are easier to treat in their early stages, so yearly checkups can help you find problems when your chances for treatment and cure are better.

The health services, screenings, and treatments you receive during your annual exam can improve your chances for a longer, healthier life.

Your doctor may recommend various diagnostic tests, based on your age, gender, personal health history, family health history, and other specific risk factors. Yearly screenings can help your doctor detect some of the most common causes of illnesses and death in the United States, including cardiovascular disease, lung disease, and colon cancer. Imaging helps doctors detect these conditions in their earliest stages, when treatment is usually most effective.

Imaging as Part of Your Yearly Check-up

Cardiovascular disease, also known as heart disease, is the number one cause of death in the U.S. and is a major cause of disability in the nation. The most common cause of cardiovascular disease is the accumulation of plaque that narrow or block the coronary arteries that carry oxygen-rich blood to the heart muscle. Doctors refer to this as coronary artery disease; it is the major reason people have heart attacks. Plaque can accumulate slowly in the coronary arteries, so many patients do not realize they have a problem.

Many times, people with heart disease do not experience symptoms until the condition has progressed to a late stage, which can make diagnosis difficult. Scanning helps doctors detect plaque in the coronary arteries.

The Electron Beam Computed Tomography (EBCT) heart scan is one of the best predictor of a cardiovascular event. EBCT is a non-invasive, high-speed computed tomography (CT) scan that can detect plaque in the coronary arteries before symptoms develop. EBCT can also detect signs of lung cancer, colon cancers, and other cancers or abnormalities.

Lung disease is another serious health problem in the U.S. Lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer death for men and women in the country. EBCT scanning can detect tumors as small as 5 millimeters in size, which is about 0.19 inches.  

Colorectal cancer is cancer of the colon or rectum. Colorectal cancer is the second leading cause of cancer death in the nation. These cancers usually start as polyps in the large intestine; imaging can detect these polyps. Colorectal cancer does not typically cause symptoms, so yearly checkups can help.

For more information on the importance of yearly checkups, make an appointment with your doctor. Make an appointment today with Virtual Imaging, Inc. Imaging Center at 770-730-0119.

 

Did You Know? Your Posture Affects Your Lungs and Heart

Thursday, November 23rd, 2017

Posture Affects Your Lungs and Heart

Poor posture contributes to problems in breathing patterns. Doctors see this problem frequently in people who spend a lot of time sitting each day. Maintaining a posture where your shoulders are rounded and your head is forward causes the muscles around your chest to tighten. These tight chest muscles can limit the ability of your rib cage to expand, and this can cause you to take rapid, shallow breaths.

Poor Posture and Your Heart and Lungs

There are two main ways of breathing: using your diaphragm to perform “belly breathing” or using the muscles around your neck to breathe from your chest.

Belly breathing pulls down on your diaphragm, which is a horizontal muscle between your chest and your stomach, to suck air into your lungs. Belly breathing fully inflates your lungs so that you get as much air as possible, whereas chest breathing only partially inflates your lungs.

When you breathe from your chest, you rely on the weaker secondary muscles in your neck and collarbone instead of on your strong diaphragm. When you combine chest breathing with poor body posture, your lungs cannot fully inflate to give your body all the oxygen it needs to function well. Over time, chest breathing combined with poor posture weakens many of the muscles in your upper body, which prevents those muscles from function well.

Sitting for a long time also prevents your lungs from inflating fully, as the forces of gravity pulls your neck and shoulders downwards. The longer you sit, the less your body is able to fight gravity. The accessory muscles in your chest tighten to cause rounded shoulders and a head-forward posture. This weakens the back by inhibiting the muscles that help you maintain an upright posture, which is essential for proper lung function.

Poor inflation of your lungs prevents you from inhaling oxygen-rich air, and keeps you from exhaling carbon dioxide and other toxins. Bad posture, then, allows carbon dioxide to build up in your system.

Slouching can also affect your heart. Poor posture can raise your blood pressure. While scientists are not exactly sure how, they think it has to do with the way bad posture causes pressure in your neck muscles. When you move, your neck muscles send a signal to your brain when you move, possibly to ensure that your brain has an adequate blood supply while you move around. Poor posture can cause this system to break down, resulting in blood pressure that is either too high or too low.

Having an underlying heart or lung problem can increase the risk that you will suffer complications from poor posture. For more information on poor posture and the problems it causes, consult with your doctor. Make an appointment today with Virtual Imaging, Inc. Imaging Center at 770-730-0119.

 

4 Tips for Holiday Colon Care

Thursday, November 23rd, 2017

Tips for Holiday Colon Care

You have put up the seasonal decorations, wrapped the gifts, prepared the meal and invited the guests, but have you decided how you will take care of your colon during the holidays?

A number of conditions can affect your colon, which is the final part of the large intestine. These conditions include Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis, constipation, irritable bowel syndrome, and polyps. Cancer is the most serious problem affecting the colon. Colorectal cancer, which affects the colon and rectum, is the second leading cause of cancer-related deaths in the United States, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Lifestyle choices can reduce your risk of colorectal cancer and decrease the occurrence of symptoms from other colon problems. Maintaining good lifestyle choices can be rough during the holidays; eating rich foods associated with the season can even make symptoms worse. Here are a few tips to help you with your holiday colon care.

4 Ways to Take Care of Your Colon during the Holidays

1. Stick to your healthy diet as much as possible

While the CDC says that medical experts do not agree on the role of food in the prevention of colon cancer, the agency does recommend a diet that is rich in fruits, vegetables, and whole grains and low in animal fats. Instead of taking a large portion of Aunt Millie’s homemade breakfast sausages, for example, opt for a bowl of oatmeal topped with fresh fruit. Pass over the cookie and reach for a celery stalk instead.

2. Limit alcohol consumption and tobacco use

There is a link between alcohol use and a higher risk of cancer of the colon. Smokers have a higher risk of developing colon cancer and they face a greater risk of dying from the disease.

3. Exercise

Physical activity stimulates bowel movements so cancer-causing agents pass through the bowels more quickly. Research shows that people who engage in the most physical activity can cut their risk of colon cancer by as much as 25 percent.

4. Undergo a colon scan

Make colon screening a priority this holiday season. A virtual colonoscopy using the EBT C300 scanner creates multiple, thin X-ray sections of the colon. Preparation is easier for virtual colonoscopy than for traditional colonoscopy in that it is non-invasive and no sedation is needed; you can return to your holiday festivities immediately after the procedure. Make an appointment with Virtual Imaging, Inc. Imaging Center at 770-730-0119.

This holiday season, give yourself the gift of colon health that will last a lifetime.

 

Ways to Relax Your Heart

Tuesday, July 11th, 2017

Ways to Relax Your Heart

 

Everyone experiences stress in life, but not everyone deals with stress in the same way. Some get hot under the collar while others remain cool, calm, and collected. How you deal with severe stress can increase your risk for a number of health issues, including heart problems. Stress can affect your behavior and other factors that also contribute to the development of heart problems. Fortunately, you can protect your heart by chilling out this summer.

Excessive stress can lead to high blood pressure, according to the American Heart Association. High blood pressure, also known as hypertension, can force your heart to work harder to pump blood throughout your body. Hypertension can also cause coronary artery disease by narrowing your arteries or lead to heart failure by weakening your heart muscles.

Stress can also cause you to engage in behaviors that negatively affect the health of your heart. You may eat more and gain an unhealthy amount of weight, for example, or consume fatty or salty foods that can increase your blood pressure or blood cholesterol levels.

Relax, chill out, and take the easy way to heart health this summer.

Ways You Can Chill Out for Heart Health this Summer

Try yoga, meditation, or tai chi to lower stress hormones. A recent study shows yoga is good for your heart. Relaxing can help you decompress and get rid of stress.

Get together with family and friends. Research shows that people suffering from depression who do not have the support of friends or family members tend to have worse outcomes from heart problems. In other words, having the support of friends or family makes your heart happier.

Avoid getting too emotionally involved in stressful situations that aren’t really important in the long run. Research published in Clinical Cardiology showed the emotional stress sports fans feel after a loss can trigger fatal heart attacks.

Drink plenty of fluids, but go easy on the alcohol. Keeping your body hydrated helps your heart pump blood efficiently. Limit alcohol intake, for excessive use of alcohol can increase your blood pressure and triglyceride levels.

Cut down on caffeine, which can trigger a rise in the “fight or flight” hormones your body releases during times of stress. Elevated stress hormones can cause inflammation that may lead to heart problems.

Take advantage of healthy, easy-to-prepare meals that feature fresh fruits and vegetables. Don’t bother firing up the grill for fatty burgers or steaks, as these foods contain saturated fats that clog your arteries. Instead, toss together a quick salad that lowers your cholesterol and helps you maintain a healthy weight.

This summer, relax your heart and improve your cardiovascular health by taking it easy. For additional tips you can utilize to improve your heart health, call 770-730-0119 and book an appointment with Virtual Imaging today!