Health

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. 

 

Benefits of Chia Seeds

Wednesday, May 2nd, 2018

Benefits of Chia Seeds

You might remember chia seeds from a popular toy; these are the same seeds you smeared on Homer Simpson’s head to grow an afro. You may not realize that chia seeds are more than fun – they are actually good for you. Despite their small size, there are a number of health benefits packed into chia seeds.

4 Health Benefits of Chia Seeds

 

1. Omega-3 fatty acids

Chia seeds provide omega-3 fatty acids, which are essential nutrients your body cannot make for itself. Omega-3 fatty acids help boost levels of HDL cholesterol, which is the “good” cholesterol that protects you against stroke and heart attack.

 

2. High in fiber

One ounce of chia seeds, which is about two tablespoons, provides 10 grams of fiber. Research shows that consuming 14 grams of fiber per every 1,000 calories can protect against coronary artery disease, a type of heart disease. A high-fiber diet also provides a number of other health benefits, including making bowel movements more regular, lowering cholesterol levels, controlling blood sugar, and even aiding in achieving and maintaining a healthy weight. The fiber in chia seeds helps you feel satisfied after even a small meal, which helps you lose weight.

 

3. Antioxidant powerhouses

Chia seeds are rich in antioxidants, which counteract the damage that free radicals can have on body cells. Free radicals can interact with other molecules and, when they do, the interaction causes a type of damage known as oxidative stress. A growing body of research shows that oxidative stress from free radicals is associated with a number of illnesses, including a type of heart disease known as atherosclerosis, as well as cancer, joint problems, diabetes, and certain types of eye diseases. Free radicals can even cause certain types of lung problems, such as asthma.

The antioxidants in chia seeds fight free radicals and reduce the risk for health issues associated with oxidative stress.

 

4. Chia seeds are high in nutrients

A tablespoon of chia seeds provides 18 percent of the calcium you need for strong teeth and bones. It also provides 27 percent of your daily phosphorus needs, 30 percent of the recommended daily allowance of manganese, and smaller amounts of potassium and copper. Chia seeds are low in cholesterol and sodium, so they are a sensible part of a heart-healthy diet.

 

Perhaps the best thing about chia seeds is that they are easy to eat – just sprinkle chia seeds on your oatmeal, mix them into muffins, or bake them into bread or other recipes. In addition to eating chia seeds to improve your health, contact Virtual Imaging, Inc. today and schedule a scan for cardiovascular disease, lung cancer, and colon cancer. 

 

Signs of Colon Cancer

Wednesday, May 2nd, 2018

Signs of Colon Cancer

Colon cancer is the uncontrolled growth of cells in the colon, also known as the large intestine. Doctors diagnose about 97,220 cases of colon cancer each year.

Colorectal cancer of the colon is common – excluding skin cancer, colorectal cancer is the third most common type of cancer in the United States.

Many people with colon cancer do not realize it at first – many of the signs and symptoms of colon cancer may be the result of other conditions, such as hemorrhoids, infections, irritable bowel syndrome, and inflammatory bowel disease. Signs of colon cancer are especially hard to recognize in the early stages of the disease. Early detection of colon cancer is important, though, in that early treatment improves outcomes.

Signs of Colon Cancer

The signs of colon cancer include:

  • A change in your bowel habits, such as constipation, diarrhea, or narrow stools, which persists for more than a few days.
  • Feeling like you need to have a bowel movement, but moving your bowels does not relieve the sensation.
  • Rectal bleeding.
  • Dark stools or obvious blood in your stool.
  • Belly pain or cramping.
  • Weakness, fatigue.
  • Unintended weight loss.

Most people who experience these signs and symptoms do not have colon cancer. It is important that people who do experience these signs and symptoms undergo colon cancer testing, as symptoms often appear only after the cancer has progressed to a later stage of the disease.

Colon Cancer and Screening

Doctors often describe colon cancer and rectal cancer as one condition – colorectal cancer.

Colorectal cancer found through routine screening is usually easier to treat than cancer found in people with symptoms. Screening can even prevent some colorectal cancers by giving doctors an opportunity to find and remove precancerous growths, known as polyps, during the screening procedure.

The American Cancer Society recommends regular colorectal screenings for men and women starting at age 50. People with a family history of colon cancer should talk with their doctors about undergoing testing at a younger age.

When diagnosed before it has spread, the five-year survival rate for colorectal cancer is 90 percent. That means nine out of ten people live for more than five years after treatment. Survival rates are lower once  the cancer has spread outside of the colon.

For more information about colon cancer and screening, talk with your doctor or schedule an appointment with us today. 

 

7 Questions to Ask Your Doctor About Your Heart Health

Wednesday, May 2nd, 2018

Questions to Ask Your Heart Doctor

If you are like most people, you want to keep your heart as healthy as possible. You may know that heart disease is common, according to the American Heart Association, which says that more than 85 million Americans are living with some form of cardiovascular disease or after-effects of stroke.

Your doctor can be one of your best allies when it comes to keeping your heart healthy. You may not be getting all the help you need from your doctor, though, simply because you do not ask the right questions while you are at the office. Here are seven heart health questions to ask at your next doctor visit.

7 Heart Health Questions to Ask at Your Next Doctor Visit

 

1. How high is my cholesterol?

High cholesterol can lead to the accumulation of fat and plaque in your blood vessels, which increases your risk for coronary artery disease, stroke, heart attack, and other cardiovascular problems. There are several types of cholesterol, including “bad” LDL, “good” HDL, and triglycerides. Ask your doctor if your cholesterol levels are within normal limits.

 

2. What is my BMI?

You may know that your body mass index (BMI) has a lot to do with your heart health. BMI is a measurement of body fat based on your height and weight. A high BMI means you may be overweight or obese, and carrying excess weight increases your risk for heart problems. If you are like many people, though, you may not know how to calculate your BMI.

 

3. Am I at high risk for heart disease?

Some people are at higher risk of heart disease than others. Certain risk factors increase the chances that you will develop cardiovascular disease. The key risk factors for heart disease are high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and smoking. Nearly half of all Americans have at least one of those risk factors. Other risk factors include being overweight or obese, sedentary lifestyle, diabetes, and excessive alcohol use.

 

4. Should I see a nutritionist or registered dietitian to learn more about healthy eating?

Nutrition plays an important role in heart health. If you are like many people, you want to eat healthier but you may not be sure what foods you should eat.

 

5. What can I do to lessen my risk of heart disease, a heart attack, or a stroke?

Your doctor can help you review your risk of heart disease and suggest ways to reduce that risk.

 

6. Should I undergo heart screening?

A heart scan can detect the development of plaque in the arteries and, if plaque is present, determine how much plaque has built up.

 

7. How often should I undergo screening?

People at high risk of heart disease because of a personal history of heart disease, a family history of cardiovascular disease, or high risk factors for heart disease should undergo screening more often than those who are at average risk.

 

Print out your list of questions and take the list with you when you visit your doctor. Be sure to bring a pen so you can write down the answers as needed. Schedule an appointment with Virtual Imaging, Inc. today and take steps towards protecting your heart.

 

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.

 

Your Colon and Why It’s Important

Wednesday, February 21st, 2018

Your Colon and Why It's Important

Your colon is the final part of your gastrointestinal tract, which is part of your digestive system.

Your colon is about five feet long and about 2.5 inches in diameter. Your small intestine is actually longer than your large intestine but your large intestine is thicker in diameter, which is why they refer to your colon as the large intestine.

Your large intestine wraps around the border of your abdominal cavity. Your colon begins on the right side of your abdomen, where it connects to your small intestine. The hollow tube of your colon moves upward on the right side of your stomach, a segment of the intestine known as the ascending colon. The transverse colon then takes a 90-degree turn to move from the right side of your upper abdomen across to the left side, where it takes another 90-degree turn. Your descending colon then runs down along the left side of your abdomen. The large intestine bends slightly at the end of the descending colon, so that the end of the colon terminates at your anus.

Your colon performs three very important jobs:

  1. Converting food into stool
  2. Absorbing essential vitamins from bacteria living in the gut
  3. Reclaiming water from stool

A semi-liquid mixture of digested food, known as chyme, passes from the small intestine into the large intestine. Powerful muscles move the chyme through the colon in a motion known as peristalsis. It takes about 36 hours for chyme to move through your colon.

The chyme mixes with beneficial bacteria living in the gut. As the chyme moves through the colon, bacterial fermentation turns the chyme into stool and releases vitamins B1, B2, B6, B12, K, and biotin that the body uses for various functions.

Your colon also turns chyme into stool by absorbing excess fluid and salt. Your body uses this reclaimed fluid and salt for other metabolic processes. The remaining waste moves through to the final segment of the colon, known as the sigmoid colon, which stores the stool for elimination. Once or twice a day, the stool moves from the sigmoid colon to the rectum and then to the outside world during a bowel movement.

For more information on your colon and its importance to your good health, talk to your doctor or other healthcare professional. Make an appointment today with Virtual Imaging, Inc. Imaging Center at 770-730-0119.

 

Risk Factors for Lung Cancer

Wednesday, February 21st, 2018

Risk Factors for Lung Cancer

Certain factors increase your risk for lung cancer. Some of these risk factors are changeable, which means you can take action to reduce your risk for developing lung cancer. Other risk factors cannot be changed.

Simply having a risk factor does not mean you will develop lung cancer. Having several risk factors, however, can increase the odds that you will develop the condition.

Lung Cancer Risk Factors

 

Exposure to tobacco smoke

The American Cancer Society says that tobacco smoking is the number one risk factor for the development of lung cancer and that about 80 percent of lung cancer cases are associated with tobacco smoke. The risk for lung cancer is many times higher in smokers than in non-smokers. The longer you smoke, the higher your risk. Smoking cigars or pipes puts you at nearly as much risk for lung cancer as smoking cigarettes.

Secondhand smoke can also increase the risk for lung cancer. Approximately 7,000 deaths from lung cancer are associated with secondhand smoke each year.

 

Exposure to radon

Exposure to radon is the second leading cause of lung cancer; it is the leading cause of lung cancer among non-smokers. Radon is a radioactive gas that occurs naturally as the result of the breakdown of uranium in the soil and water. 

There are very low levels of radon outside, but the radioactive gas can become concentrated indoors. Radon levels can be especially high in the basement. Breathing radon exposes your lungs to small amounts of radiation in radon and this increases your risk for lung cancer.

 

Exposure to asbestos

People who work in mines, textile plants, mills, and other workplaces that use insulation are at increased risk for lung cancer. Those who work in shipyards also have a higher risk for the disease. The risk for lung cancer is even greater in smokers who work in these places.

Exposure to asbestos increases the risk of a particular type of lung cancer, known as mesothelioma, which starts in the pleural lining of the lungs.

 

Workplace exposure to other cancer-causing agents

Working around other cancer-causing agents, known as carcinogens, can increase the risk of lung cancer. These workplace carcinogens can include uranium or other radioactive ores, and diesel exhaust. Other carcinogens include:

  • Arsenic
  • Beryllium
  • Cadmium
  • Chloromethyl ethers
  • Chromium compounds
  • Coal products
  • Mustard gas
  • Nickel compounds
  • Silica
  • Vinyl chloride

Early detection of lung cancer is essential for a good outcome. Screening for lung cancer is an important step in detecting lung cancer early, especially for people who are at high risk for developing the disease. For more information on the risk factors for lung cancer, consult with a doctor or knowledgeable medical professional. Make an appointment today with Virtual Imaging, Inc. Imaging Center 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.

 

Benefits of Virtual Examinations

Wednesday, February 21st, 2018

Benefits of Virtual Exams

In the earliest days of medicine, doctors would use their hands and rudimentary tools to perform physical examinations of the patients they treated. A doctor might press on a patient’s belly to diagnose appendicitis before performing surgery, for example, or use an x-ray to detect a heart problem or cancer. A patient might undergo colonoscopy as screening for colon cancer. In some cases, doctors would have to perform exploratory surgery to determine the cause of a patient’s illness.

Doctors still use many of the traditional physical examinations to diagnose patients, but many clinicians are utilizing virtual examinations, also known as body scans. Virtual examinations provide a number of benefits, both for the patients and for their doctors.

Benefits of Medical Imaging

Virtual examinations through medical imaging helps doctors detect, diagnose, and treat illnesses early, when many illnesses are at their most treatable stages. In this way, virtual examinations save lives and improve the quality of those lives.

Since medical imaging catches illnesses early, virtual examinations can reduce healthcare costs. Treating plaque in the arteries with lifestyle changes and medicine is less expensive than treating heart attacks, for example. Cardiac computed tomography (CT) for Calcium Scoring creates images of the patient’s coronary arteries to help doctors determine if the patient has atherosclerosis or coronary artery disease (CAD), which can lead to heart attacks.

The latest generation of diagnostic CT technology, such as the EBCT C300 scanner, performs high-speed, high-volume imaging using very low radiation to create images of the heart, vessels, and all organs in the torso. Virtual examinations allow clinicians to see heart and vascular disease, colon cancers, lung cancer, other cancers, and abnormalities that are preventable and curable when detected early.

Virtual examinations can improve the overall quality of healthcare. Medical imaging gives doctors and other health professionals the tools they need to make accurate diagnoses. Virtual examinations also provide a way for doctors to evaluate patients’ responses to treatment.

One major advantage is the shareable nature of digital imaging – doctors can share imaging results with specialists and other members of the patient’s healthcare team. Virtual examinations and full body scans help every member of the team stay up-to-date on a patient’s condition.

Patients prefer virtual examinations because they are non-invasive, painless, and most modern medical imaging tests require very little preparation. Medical imaging helps patients avoid or limit invasive inpatient procedures and return to their normal lives more quickly than ever before. Virtual examinations have all but eliminated the need for exploratory surgery. Patients also appreciate the detailed information virtual examinations provide.

Today’s medical imaging has several advantages over older technologies. For more information about the benefits of virtual examinations, talk to your doctor or other healthcare professional. Make an appointment today with Virtual Imaging, Inc. Imaging Center at 770-730-0119.