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American Heart Health Month Learn How to Keep Your Heart Healthy

heart healthFebruary is American Heart Health Month and a good time to learn more about heart disease, heart attack, risk factors and how to keep your heart healthy. Heart disease is the leading cause of death for both women and men in the United States with one in every four deaths caused by heart disease.

Heart disease is also called coronary artery disease (CAD) or coronary heart disease (CHD), which means the coronary arteries that deliver blood to the heart are either blocked or narrowed. This can be caused when fatty material, also called plaque, and cholesterol build up in the arteries.

Plaque may be caused by:

  • Too much cholesterol and fat in the blood
  • Smoking
  • High blood pressure
  • Diabetes or having too much sugar in the blood

Symptoms of Heart Attack

When an artery is blocked by plaque it makes it hard for blood to flow to the heart which may cause chest pain or a heart attack. A heart attack is also called a myocardial infarction and requires quick medical attention or a part of the heart may die from lack of blood flow. Everyone should be aware of the signs of a heart attack which include:

  • Shortness of breath or trouble breathing either while being active or while resting
  • Feeling of pain, discomfort, pressure, squeezing or fullness in the center or left side of the chest
  • Pain or discomfort in the upper body such as arms, back, shoulders, neck jaw or upper stomach area above the belly button
  • Feeling light headed, dizzy or unusually tired
  • Feeling nauseous or vomiting
  • Feelings of heartburn or stomach ache
  • Breaking out in a cold sweat

Not everyone who experiences a heart attack will have all of these signs. Learn more about the signs and symptoms of a heart attack or stroke from the American Heart Association. Do not ignore any changes in how you feel, signs of heart attack may come on suddenly or develop slowly over hours, days or weeks.

Be sure to tell your doctor if you experience any unusual symptoms such as tiredness lasting for several days, trouble breathing or chest pain. If you had previously had a heart attack, it is important to be aware that a second heart attack may occur with very different signs and symptoms.

Preventing Heart Disease

heart healthEven though heart disease is the leading cause of death for men and women in the United States, there are many things we can do to help lower the risk of developing heart disease and improve our heart health. Some things within our control to protect our hearts and prevent disease include:

  • Getting active
  • Eating healthy
  • Maintaining a healthy weight
  • Quitting smoking
  • Controlling cholesterol and blood pressure
  • Drinking alcohol only in moderation
  • Managing stress

These are all things that are within our control to help take care of our hearts and prevent heart disease from developing. While everyone is considered at risk for heart disease, people are at a higher risk if they do not get enough activity, do not eat healthy, are overweight or smoke. Family history and age also play a role in your risk for heart disease. People who are at a higher risk include:

  • Women over the age of 55
  • Men over the age of 45
  • People with a father or brother who had heart disease before age 55
  • People with a mother or sister who had heart disease before age 65

Congenital Heart Defects

Congenital heart defects are abnormalities in the structure of the heart that are present at birth. Congenital heart defects can involve the arteries and veins near the heart, the walls of the heart or heart valves. About 40,000 children in the United States are born with a congenital heart defect each year, which means at least eight in every 1,000 infants born will have a heart defect.

While the causes of most congenital heart defects are not completely known, physicians and scientists are making progress with research.

Cardiac MRI

Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) is useful in diagnosing congenital heart defects and to evaluate the anatomy of the heart in patients with heart disease. Since MRI does not use ionizing radiation to produce images, it allows for a safe and non-invasive method of evaluating heart structure and function.

Greater Waterbury Imaging Center will soon be offering Cardiac MRI to provide our patients with the best level of medical imaging services possible. Learn more about Cardiac MRI and the many benefits it provides. Contact us with any questions on cardiac MRI and for all your MR imaging needs.

GWIC Will Soon be Offering Cardiac MRI

Cardiac MRI is used to detect or monitor cardiac disease and to evaluate the heart’s anatomy and function in patients with both heart disease present at birth and heart diseases that develop after birth. Cardiac MRI does not use ionizing radiation to produce images, and it may provide the best images of the heart for certain conditions:

  • Evaluating the anatomy and function of the heart chambers, heart valves, size of and blood flow through major vessels, and the surrounding structures such as the pericardium (the sac that surrounds the heart)
  • Diagnosing a variety of cardiovascular (heart and/or blood vessel) disorders such as tumors, infections, and inflammatory conditions
  • Evaluating the effects of coronary artery disease such as limited blood flow to the heart muscle and scarring within the heart muscle after a heart attack
  • Planning a patient’s treatment for cardiovascular disorders
  • Monitoring the progression of certain disorders over time
  • Evaluating the effects of surgical changes, especially in patients with congenital heart disease
  • Evaluating the anatomy of the heart and blood vessels in children and adults with congenital heart disease (heart disease present at birth).

The Benefits of Cardiac MRI are:

  • MRI is a noninvasive imaging technique that does not involve exposure to ionizing radiation
  • MR images of the heart are better than other imaging methods for certain conditions. This advantage makes MRI an invaluable tool in early diagnosis and evaluation of certain cardiac abnormalities, especially those involving the heart muscle
  • MRI has proven valuable in diagnosing a broad range of conditions, including cardiovascular anatomical anomalies (e.g., congenital heart defects), functional abnormalities (e.g., valve failure), tumors, and conditions related to coronary artery disease and cardiomyopathy (disease affecting the heart muscle)
  • MR imaging can be used during certain interventional procedures, such as catheter-based ablation procedures to treat irregular heart rhythms, including atrial fibrillation. The use of MRI can substantially shorten the time required to perform these procedures and result in improved accuracy.
  • MRI enables the discovery of abnormalities that might be obscured by bone with other imaging methods.
    The contrast material used in MRI exams is less likely to produce an allergic reaction than the iodine-based contrast materials used for conventional x-rays and CT scanning.
  • Cardiac MRI allows for evaluation of the structures and function of the heart and major vessels without the risks of exposure to ionizing radiation which may be associated with more invasive procedures or some other non-invasive tests.

GWIC will soon be featuring a Cardiac MR Imaging machine to provide quality images as provided on this page.

Please contact us for additional information.

January is Cervical Health Awareness Month

8 alarming signs of cervical cancer

January is designated as Cervical Health Awareness Month with more than 13,000 women in the United States diagnosed with cervical cancer every year. Cervical cancer is the fourth most common type of cancer in women worldwide, with more than 4,000 women dying from the disease each year. Cervical cancer is also one of the most preventable types of cancers as it typically develops over time.

Abnormal cells that lead to cervical cancer can be detected early in a Pap test, allowing for proper treatment to prevent the progression to cancer. Most women that develop cervical cancer have not had a pap test in three to five years or more. Cervical cancer is most often diagnosed in women between the ages of 35 to 44 and rarely in women under the age of 20.

The human papillomavirus (HPV) is present in approximately 99% of all cases of cervical cancer, although most types of HPV are low risk and do not cause cancer. There are two types of high- risk HPV which are known to cause more than 70% of all cervical cancer cases. These two high-risk types of HPV are HPV-16 and HPV-18.

Understanding the benefits of regular pap tests and the HPV vaccine just may save a life. Read more to learn how to protect yourself and your loved ones and visit the National Cervical Cancer Coalition (NCCC) for more information on testing, vaccines and access to informative downloadable content and videos.

Early Screening with Pap Tests and HPV Tests Save Lives

Early screening with a pap test is the traditional screening test for detection of abnormal cells known to cause cervical cancer. An HPV test is also available and has been recently approved for use as a primary cervical cancer screening test for women over 25. It is recommended that women begin screening with a pap test at the age of 21, and co-testing with an HPV test an option after the age of 30.
Cell changes in the cervix are detected early in a pap test and HPV tests help healthcare providers find the virus and know which women are at a higher risk of developing cervical cancer. It is important for women to speak with their doctor about which test right for them.

When a pap test detects abnormal or precancerous cells in the cervix, this may be referred to as cervical dysplasia. This does not mean the patient will develop cervical cancer, although the doctor may want to provide treatment to prevent further cell changes that could develop into cancer. Most of the types of HPV that cause dysplasia are considered high-risk types and have been linked to cervical cancer. This is why early, regular pap tests are so important. Your doctor can prevent dysplasia from progressing to cancer when caught early.

HPV Vaccination

HPV is much more common than some people may realize, with 79 million people in the U.S. walking around with HPV. Most people who are sexually active will contract HPV at some point in their lives with high risk types linked to cervical cancer and low risk types linked to genital warts. If not detected early with Pap and HPV tests, a women’s risk of developing cervical cancer increases.

The HPV vaccine is recommended by the CDC for boys and girls between the ages of 11 to 12 as a higher immune response is noted when the vaccine is administered in the preteen years. The vaccine was first available in the years 2007 to 2010, and since then rate of infection rates for HPV types vaccinated against has dropped significantly, up to a 56% decline. The HPV vaccine protects against the high risk types of HPV which lead to cancer as well as low risk types which cause warts.

Since the vaccine is most effective in preteen years, if taken before the age of 14 only two doses are required. After age 15 the complete three doses are required, men and women may get vaccinated up to the age of 45. The HPV vaccine is proven to be safe with soreness at the injection site the most common side effect.
You can help by getting your regular pap and screening tests, reminding the women in your life to do the same and talking to your doctor about the HPV vaccine.

Greater Waterbury Imaging Center cares about your health and we encourage all women to see their healthcare provider for regular pap tests and screenings. With preventive care we can significantly reduce the number of diagnosed cases of cervical cancer in the U. S. Remember to contact us to schedule all your MR imaging needs.

Learn the Facts about the Flu, Vaccines and Hand Washing

It’s that time of year when the flu, or seasonal flu, is rearing its ugly head to infect people of all ages with the influenza virus. The flu virus is highly contagious and spreads easily from person to person usually from a cough, a sneeze or from touching contaminated surfaces to cause respiratory illness. The flu virus enters your body through the eyes, nose or mouth, referred to as the “T Zone”.

It is estimated that between 5% to 20% of people in the U.S. get sick with the flu each year, with anywhere between 3,000 to 49,000 Americans becoming so ill the flu results in death. Most people feel better after about a week or two, but for those at a high risk of developing complications the flu can be deadly. You are at a higher risk of developing complications from the flu that may lead to hospitalization or death if you have asthma, lung diseases like COPD or other chronic conditions.

Symptoms of the Flu

Flu symptoms may come on suddenly, if treatment is sought early enough there are antiviral medications that may help to reduce symptoms and speed up recovery. People in a high risk category of developing complications should immediately seek medical treatment which may include antiviral medications such as TamiFlu®.

Antivirals must begin within a day or two of becoming sick or they will be ineffective. This is why it is so important to see your doctor with any flu-like symptoms. Flu symptoms may include:

  • Sore throat
  • Runny nose and nasal congestion
  • Cough (usually a dry cough)
  • Sudden high fever
  • Headache
  • Chills
  • Fatigue
  • Stomach symptoms (nausea, vomiting, diarrhea)

If you experience these flu-like symptoms contact your doctor right away to see if antiviral medication may help to lessen the severity of your symptoms.

Get Vaccinated to Prevent Serious Flu Complications

There are 3 different flu viruses, A, B and C with the most serious complications caused by the A and B virus. The Influenza A virus contains various strains or subtypes of the virus such as H1N1 and H3N2, which are included in the flu vaccine. The flu virus is constantly changing with new strains identified, which is why it is so important to get vaccinated as scientist work diligently to identify and vaccinate against newly recognized strains.

The flu vaccine is recommended for people of all ages, especially for with those in a high risk category which includes infants over the age of 6 months, pregnant woman and people over the age of 65. Infants under 6 months of age are too young to get the vaccine, which makes it very important for parents and caregivers to get vaccinated as the flu virus in a young infant may cause serious, life threatening complications. High potency vaccines are available for people over 65 and children between the ages of 6 months to 8 years old may require two doses of the vaccine to be fully protected.

Types of Flu Vaccines

The flu vaccine is available in different forms, a flu shot and a spray mist. The flu shot works by helping the body develop antibodies to protect against infection from the various strains included in the vaccine. It typically takes about two weeks before the body has developed an immunity to the flu, with antibodies at the highest level one to two months after receiving the vaccination before they begin to decline. The flu shot is safe for people with asthma, is covered by most insurance and Medicare and is made from inactivated (dead) parts of the virus.

The spray vaccine is a nasal spray mist which is made from live virus strains which are weakened. The FluMist vaccine is recommended only for people between the ages of 2 to 49 who are healthy, are not pregnant and not in a high risk group such as having asthma, COPD or lung disorders. The FluMist nasal spray is an approved alternative to the flu shot.

Getting vaccinated from the flu is the best way to protect yourself and loved ones from contracting and spreading the illness. Learn more about the flu, vaccines and treatments at the American Lung Association.

Practice Healthy Hand Washing Habits

Practicing healthy hand washing habits is very important to prevent the spread of the flu, with the 4 main principles of hand awareness endorsed by the American Medical Association. The 4 principles of healthy hand washing include:

  • Always wash hands before eating or when they are dirty
  • Never cough into your hands
  • Never sneeze into your hands
  • Never put fingers in your eyes, nose or mouth

Henry the Hand Foundation is a non-profit organization recognized for promoting awareness to the principles of hand washing with hygiene behavior programs for children and adults. Visit Henry the Hand Foundation to learn more about practicing and endorsing healthy hand washing, and to learn more about the Infection Prevention Tool Kits available for homes, schools and hospitals.

Getting sick is no fun and with the Holidays here we want to feel healthy to spend time with family, children and our elderly loved ones. Be sure that you protect yourself and your loved ones from contracting the flu with a flu vaccine and healthy hand washing habits.

Greater Waterbury Imaging Center cares about your health and wellness, we encourage you to get the flu vaccine and practice healthy habits. Don’t forget to contact your doctor immediately upon experiencing flu symptoms for antiviral medication that may help. Contact us for all your medical MR imaging needs.

Learn How to Prevent Diabetes and Vascular Complications

November is National Diabetes Month, a good time to remind people how to prevent this disease and the complications that go with it. There are more than 30 million people in the United States living with diabetes, that’s 1 in 10 people, with an additional 84 million adults at a high risk of developing type 2 diabetes. There are two types of diabetes, type 1 occurs in children and adolescents and accounts for only about 5% of diagnosed cases. Type 2 occurs later in life when the body does not produce enough or does not respond to insulin, which causes increased sugar levels in the blood stream.

Diabetes is one of the leading causes of death and disability in the U.S. causing nerve damage, kidney disease, eye disease, vascular and serious health complications if not well controlled. There are many things that can be done to control the progression of diabetes and prevent serious complications. People who are at an elevated risk of developing type 2 can reduce their risk of becoming diabetic by over 50% with diet and exercise.

Learn How to Prevent Diabetes and Reverse Prediabetes

There are many things you can do to prevent diabetes and even reverse prediabetes such as eating healthy foods and staying active. Here are some simple lifestyle changes that anyone can make to help maintain normal blood glucose levels and ward off this chronic condition and its complications:

  • Eat healthy foods – one of the most important things that you can do to prevent diabetes is follow a low calorie diet rich in plant based foods with plenty of fruits and vegetables, while avoiding sugar, trans fats and saturated fats.
  • Get some physical activity – mild to moderate activity such as a brisk walk a few times a week can help to prevent diabetes. Exercise helps the body’s cells to be more receptive to insulin.
  • Reduce your stress – stress can trigger the body to release hormones which are proven to increase blood sugar. Coping with stress in healthy ways such as with physical activity, meditation and support from friends or groups helps to reduce the negative effects stress has on your health.
  • See your doctor for regular checkups – see your doctor for regular checkups where you should have your cholesterol and blood pressure checked and be sure to discuss any changes or problems with your vision.

Learn more about how to take steps to prevent type 2 diabetes, and talk to your friends and loved ones about joining you in your efforts.

Controlling Vascular Complications from Diabetes

High blood sugar, or hyperglycemia, puts people with diabetes at an elevated risk of developing vascular diseases. High blood sugar wreaks havoc on the body’s blood vessels, which bring oxygen to each living cell in the body. The body suffers in many ways when blood vessels aren’t working properly.

Here is a list of six vascular complications which could occur with diabetes and how to control conditions from worsening:

  • Diabetic eye disease – because diabetes affects the vascular system, blood vessels in the retina may become swollen reducing the flow of oxygen which may cause blindness. See your doctor about changes in vision and have an annual dilated eye exam.
  • Peripheral arterial disease (PAD) – this occurs when blood flow to the feet and legs is reduced by plaque build-up in the arteries. PAD is common in elderly people and much more likely in those with diabetes. Symptoms may be leg pain when walking which subsides with rest. The first course of treatment is typically a daily walk which increases blood flow to the legs and feet and will eventually decrease leg pain. Talk to your doctor about intermittent leg pain and patients with PAD should have regular checkups with a vascular surgeon.
  • Peripheral neuropathy and foot ulcers – peripheral neuropathy and PAD may both be causes of foot ulcers. Neuropathy causes a lack of sensation in the foot to the point that patients do not feel pain therefore foot sores go untreated, which can be very dangerous. Patients with peripheral neuropathy should be evaluated by a vascular surgeon, a podiatrist and an amputation prevention team.
  • Smoking Complications – smoking cigarettes causes inflammation and plaque buildup which damages blood vessels. Patients with diabetes must give up smoking, call 1-800-QUIT-NOW for help and support to kick the habit for good.
  • Heart attack – diabetes also affects the arteries which supply blood to the heart making patients with diabetes at an increased risk of heart attack. Diabetics may not have the same warning symptoms of a heart attack such as chest pain, making it important to report any symptoms to your doctor including shortness of breath or exercise intolerance and reduce cholesterol levels with healthy eating and exercise.
  • Renovascular disease – with diabetes, the blood vessels to the kidneys can also be affected leading to kidney failure which may be asymptomatic until advanced, irreversible stages. Controlling blood pressure and blood sugar can help to reduce kidney failure from diabetes. Kidney problems may be detected and treated before reaching kidney failure with regular doctor visits and blood tests.

It is very important for people with diabetes to be aware of potential complications from high blood sugar and the damage this causes to blood vessels. Learn more about diabetes and vascular disease, watch a video and download free patient resources from the Society for Vascular Surgery.

GWIC cares about your health and we encourage you to eat healthy foods low in sugar and trans-fat, see your doctor regularly and get enough physical activity. We provide professional, caring and experienced care. Remember to contact us for all your MR imaging needs.

MRI Breast Imaging and MRI Breast Biopsy

MRI is the term which describes magnetic resonance imaging, a method used to obtain detailed images of a person’s bones, body structure, soft tissues and organs. By using a magnetic field with radio waves and computer generation, three-dimensional cross sections can be obtained to evaluate medical conditions in an individual’s body and head. MR imaging provides a valuable look inside the body that is not available with other imaging methods such as ultrasound, X-ray and computed tomography (CT) scans.

MR imaging is a valuable tool for physicians to diagnose many health conditions such as heart and vascular disease, musculoskeletal disorders, cancer, stroke and many other health conditions. MRI Breast Imaging is used to diagnose breast abnormalities, determine staging of breast cancer and is a supplement to mammography. MRI should not be considered a replacement for mammography, although may detect lesions in women with dense tissue or breast implants which can be missed during traditional mammograms.

MR imaging provides additional screening options throughout the year for women at a high risk of developing breast cancer with safe methods that do not use radiation. This makes it very safe for women of all ages.

Common Uses of MRI Breast Imaging

MRI is used for many diagnostic and treatment purposes, including the following:

  • Further diagnosis of abnormalities detected in mammography
  • Identify breast cancer for women at high risk, with dense tissue or breast implants
  • Determine the integrity of breast implants
  • Identify location and progression of any tumors
  • Evaluate progress of chemotherapy
  • Distinguish between recurring tumors and scar tissue
  • Assess whether cancer has spread beyond the chest wall or surgical site
  • Many other diagnostic purposes not available with other methods

MRI of the breast can be taken prior to and after the use of an additional contrast material which may provide additional information to physicians which helps them in diagnosing benign or malignant tumors and examining lymph nodes.

Breast Cancer Screening Recommendations

MRI Breast ImagingThe American Cancer Society provides the following recommended guidelines for breast cancer screening as it is important to find breast cancer early. Early detection is critical to successful treatment, with the goal of screening to diagnose breast cancer before symptoms appear. Regular screenings will detect breast cancer while it is small and still confined to the breast area which improves a woman’s prognosis.

Women of average risk include those that:

  • Have no personal history of breast cancer
  • Do not have a strong family history of breast cancer
  • Do not carry the gene BRCA which increases risk of breast cancer
  • Had no chest radiation therapy before the age of 30

Women within the average risk category should begin mammogram screenings between the age of 40 to 44, with annual mammograms between the ages of 45 to 54.

Breast Cancer Screening Recommendations for High Risk Patients

Women considered to be high risk for breast cancer should have a breast MRI and a mammogram each year beginning by the age of 30. Women in the high risk category include women who:

  • Have a personal history of breast cancer
  • Had chest radiation therapy between the ages of ten and thirty
  • Have a lifetime risk based on family history of 20% – 25% or more
  • Carry the BRCA1 or BRCA2 gene mutation determined during genetic testing
  • Have a first degree relative such as a sister, brother, child or parent with the BRCA1 or BRCA2 genes, whether they have had testing or not
  • Have the Bannayan-Riley-Ruvalcaba, Cowden or Fraumeni syndrome, or a first degree relative with either of these syndromes.

Visit the American Cancer Society for more information on Breast Cancer Early Detection and Diagnosis.

What to Expect During MRI of the Breast

During an MRI of the breast you will be lying face down with the moveable bed moved into the magnetic area of the unit. You will need to lie completely still while the MRI is obtaining images, which occurs in sequences of one to fifteen minutes. You’ll be able to hear the technologist and they’ll be able to hear you during the exam. The MR technologist will do everything possible to make you comfortable, you can usually relax in between sequences.

When a contrast material is used, an intravenous (IV) line administers the contrast prior to a series of images. Your IV will be removed upon examination of your completed images, with a full analysis and report performed by the radiologist. The radiologist is trained in analyzing MRI images and provides a full report to your health care provider.

MRI and Breast Biopsy

The radiologist may recommend further testing such as a breast biopsy of suspicious tissue. An MRI guided breast biopsy allows for further testing to determine if the tumor is cancerous. A thin needle is inserted into the tissue with MR images and sent for further testing. MR imaging is an important part of breast cancer prevention and treatment, offering physicians a way to diagnose and treat patients for early detection and an improved prognosis for survival.

Greater Waterbury Imaging Center offers a clean and modern MRI facility, providing friendly and professional MR imaging services. We encourage you to know your risk for developing breast cancer and schedule all of your preventive maintenance screening tests. Contact us for all your MR imaging needs including MR imaging of the breast.

Learn the Facts about Prostate Cancer and How to Get Tested

September is prostate cancer awareness month and a good time to remind the men in our lives to know their risk factors and get tested. Each year, approximately 29,430 men will die of prostate cancer making it the second leading cause of cancer deaths in American men, and the most common form of cancer diagnosed. It is important to know the symptoms, risk factors, when and how to get tested and what to do with a prostate cancer diagnosis.

Symptoms of Prostate Cancer

Prostate cancer will most often not have any symptoms during the early stages, making it vitally important for men to receive annual check-ups. Early diagnosis can prevent the cancer from spreading and provides a positive prognosis for survival. More than 99% of men who are diagnosed early survive a prostate cancer diagnosis. With such great odds when detected early, it is evident that we need to do more to spread awareness to prevent this cancer from taking more lives.

Most symptoms of prostate cancer are similar to benign prostatic hyperplasia (BHP), overactive bladder, erectile dysfunction or prostatitis which include the following:

  • Frequent nighttime urination
  • Strong urge to urinate immediately
  • Difficulty starting the urinary stream
  • A weak urinary stream once it starts
  • Pain and/or burning when urinating
  • Dribbling after you’re finished
  • Pain in the genital and pelvic area
  • Blood in the urine or semen
  • Frequent urinary tract infections

More serious symptoms of prostate cancer include:

  • Fatigue
  • Anemia
  • Unexpected weight loss
  • Pain in the lower back or pelvic area

Prostate cancer is most commonly found during screening tests which include a Prostate Specific Antigen (PSA) and a Digital Rectal Exam (DRE). The majority of men learn about their diagnosis through early screening tests. Know your risk factors and talk to your physician about the screening tests right for you.

Risk Factors of Prostate Cancer

The most prevalent risk factors of prostate cancer include family history, ethnicity, diet and an increasing age. If you are over 50 years old, African-American or have a history of prostate cancer you may be at an increased risk. While these factors increase your risk, all men are at risk of developing this type of cancer. As the risk of developing prostate cancer increases significantly with age, it is recommended that men begin to talk to their doctors about screening in their 40’s or earlier if at an increased risk.

Family history is an important factor as men with at least one close relative who has had prostate cancer is twice as likely to develop this disease compared to the general population. Talk to your doctor about any genetic testing available which could help to predict your probability of developing this cancer. For reasons unclear, African-American men are 1.7 times more likely to be diagnosed and 2.3 times more likely to not survive prostate cancer compared to Caucasian men.

Men who consume large amounts of animal fat are at an increased risk of developing prostate cancer, which is much more common in countries where diets consist of higher intakes of dairy and meat as opposed to countries with a more common diet of vegetables, soy and rice. Obesity may pose an increased risk, as men with a body mass index, BMI, of 30 or more are considered to have an increased risk of diagnosis with a poorer prognosis for survival. Men who exercise have up to an 86% lower risk of developing prostate cancer and greatly improve their prognosis for survival if diagnosed. Learn how to prevent prostate cancer with physical activity designed to lower your risk as recommended by zerocancer.org, the organization dedicated to preventing prostate cancer in men.

How Do I Get Tested for Prostate Cancer?

Talk to your doctor about your risk factors to determine if you should be tested and the right test for you. Early detection provides the greatest chance of living longer with a 5-year survival rate over 99% when caught early. A full prostate cancer exam can be performed by a general practitioner and usually includes the digital rectal exam, DRE, and a PSA blood test. Discuss your risk factors and testing options with your physician and find out about free screening options.

If your test results are abnormal you may need to repeat some tests and have additional testing such as an ultrasound, MRI or biopsy. If you do have a positive diagnosis do not lose hope as more than 2.9 million American men are living today after a prostate cancer diagnosis. The first thing to do is to learn more about your specific type of cancer, what stage you are in and the grade as assigned by the Gleason score, which measures the aggressiveness of tumors.

Greater Waterbury Imaging Center for MRI Prostate Screening

Greater Waterbury Imaging Center performs MRI prostate screenings with the most up to date protocols for informed and accurate screening, with imaging playing an increasingly important role in prostate cancer detection.  See our latest case study on MRI prostate imaging.

MR Prostate

Greater Waterbury Imaging Center cares about your health and well-being and encourages you to speak with your doctor about your risk factors and prostate cancer screening options. Remember to contact us for all your MR imaging needs.

Don’t Forget to Include the Eye Doctor with Annual Checkups

It’s that time of year again when we schedule our back to school doctor visits and checkups. Don’t forget to include visits to the eye doctor, whether your child currently wears glasses or contact lenses. Children and adults of all ages should have an annual eye exam to identify any underlying conditions you may not be aware of. Some diseases develop later in life without any warning but could be detected in an eye exam.

Early diagnosis is important to help prevent further eye damage with the proper treatments. Preventing many forms of eye disease is possible by following some precautionary measures. There are many things that you can do to help keep your eyes healthy and maintain the best possible vision.

Follow these tips to maintain healthy eyesight now and in the future:

See an eye doctor for a thorough eye exam – even if you think your vision is perfect and your eyes are healthy, it is important to visit your eye care professional regularly for a dilated eye exam. Some people may not be aware of slight changes in vision or may have no symptoms of some common eye diseases such as diabetic eye disease, glaucoma and macular degeneration which can occur with no warning signs. The only way to diagnose these conditions early to receive the best possible treatment is with a dilated eye exam.

Eat a healthy diet – while it’s true that carrots are beneficial to maintain healthy eyes, a diet rich in fruits and vegetables, especially dark leafy greens such as kale, collard greens and spinach is a great way to naturally ward off eye disease. Studies also show that eating fish high in omega 3 fatty acids such as tuna, salmon and halibut is also beneficial to promote healthy eyesight. We should all eat a healthy diet for overall wellness but getting the proper amount of dark leafy greens and omega 3 fatty acids benefits your entire body, including your eyes.

Know your family health history including eye health – many eye conditions can be hereditary, it is therefore important to know the eye health of family members. You should be aware of any diagnosis of eye disease and conditions that would put you at a higher risk for developing those conditions.

Maintain a healthy weight – carrying around extra weight or being obese increases the risk of developing systemic conditions which can lead to eye diseases such as glaucoma or diabetic eye disease. Talk to your health care provider if you need help maintaining a healthy weight.

Don’t smoke – quitting smoking or never starting will protect your eyes along with the rest of your body. Studies show that smoking increases the risk of developing age related eye diseases such as optic nerve damage, macular degeneration and cataracts which may lead to blindness.

Wash your hands before handling contact lenses – you should always wash your hands thoroughly before taking out or putting in your contact lenses to avoid infection.

Wear sunglasses with UV protection – Ultraviolet radiation from the sun can damage the eyes, be sure to purchase sunglasses that block both UVA and UVB radiation.

Reduce eye strain on electronics – when typing or looking at a screen for extended periods your eyes can experience eye strain which can affect your eye health and vision. Make an effort to look away from your screen at least 20 feet in front of you every 20 minutes to avoid eye strain. Remember the 20/20 rule.

Wear safety eyewear – wearing protective eyewear during certain activities such as sports or dangerous work areas will help to protect your eyes from serious damage. You can obtain the correct type of protective eyewear for your activity which may include safety glasses, goggles, eye guards or safety shields from some sporting goods stores or your eye care provider.

They say that our eyes are the windows to the world. Help to maintain healthy eyes for better health and eyesight for yourself and your children. Follow these simple eye safety tips and be sure to include the eye doctor in your annual checkups. Learn more from the National Eye Institute and watch a video about how a comprehensive dilated eye exam can prevent blindness.

GWIC cares about your overall health and well being including the health of your eyes. We encourage you to follow these eye protection tips and to speak with your doctor about any concerns with family history or symptoms of poor vision. Contact us for all your MR imaging needs.

Stay Safe This Summer During UV Safety Month

July is UV Safety month and we all need reminders on how to stay safe in the sun to protect our skin from UV radiation. UV radiation is proven to cause cancer, both basal cell and squamous cell cancers which are quite common but also very treatable. Melanoma is less common but much more serious as it is more likely to grow and to spread. All these types of skin cancers have been linked to UV rays either from the sun or artificial sources such as tanning beds.

Basal cell and squamous cell skin cancer are common in people that spend a lot of time outdoors either for their job or recreation. People that have had serious sunburns are known to have a higher risk of developing these types of skin cancer, as well as people that have signs of sun damage such as liver spots or rough patches of skin that can be precancerous.

Melanoma is linked to behaviors which include intermittent exposure to sun such as watersports and sunbathing, showing signs of sun damage and previous sunburns. UV radiation has also been shown to cause cancer of the lip or even melanoma of the eye. It is important to learn how to protect yourself and practice safe habits in the sun.

Protect Yourself from Skin Cancer

In the United States, skin cancer is the most common type of cancer with the number of people diagnosed increasing over the last few decades. Early diagnosis is important for successful treatment, while some simple steps can help to greatly reduce your chances of developing these types of skin cancer. The American Cancer Society recommends following the Slip, Slop, Slap and Wrap guidelines which include:

  • Slip on a shirt
  • Slop on sunscreen
  • Slap on a hat
  • Wrap sunglasses to protect your eyes

Use sunscreen with an SPF of at least 30. Sunscreens that contain SPF of lower than 15 are now required to include a warning label that states the product may only prevent sunburn and not early skin aging or skin cancer. SPF can be confusing as most people do not apply enough or wear a broad-spectrum sunscreen. An SPF of 30 means that for every 30 minutes exposed to the sun you are receiving the equivalent of 1 minute of exposure to UVB rays.

Broad-spectrum sunscreen protects against UVA and UVB rays, and only broad-spectrum sunscreens which contain an SPF of 15 or above can claim to protect against skin aging and skin cancer, when combined with safe practices.

Enjoy Swimming with Tips to Avoid Injury

Many people enjoy swimming as a form of recreation and a great exercise during the summer months. Just as you protect your skin from the sun, you must also protect your body from injury during any form of exercise. Swimming is a total body workout providing cardio benefits with aerobic activity while improving strength and flexibility. Swimming is gentle on the joints while keeping your body cool, this allows many people to exercise longer than if running or sweating outside or in a gym.

Swimming is a great workout for people with joint pain, back pain, arthritis and can be an important part of aerobic activity for people with diabetes, high blood sugar or cholesterol. Swimming works all muscles including your core, arms, legs, back and glutes. While we rarely think of injuries associated with the low-impact exercise, swimmers are at an elevated risk of developing shoulder injuries. This is true for freestyle swimmers and especially athletes that train vigorously.

Prevent Shoulder Injuries While Swimming

Swimmers shoulder is caused from the repetitive motion of moving the shoulder during swim strokes and causes inflammation and pain. Many people develop this shoulder injury due to overworking the shoulder joint or by using an incorrect technique. One way to prevent swimmer’s shoulder is to practice the proper technique which puts less stress on the shoulder joint.

Building shoulder strength with proper stretching and band exercises is also a great way to help prevent shoulder injuries. Bench push ups is a good way to improve muscle strength with less strain on the shoulders since the upper body is elevated.

A Labrum Tear can occur when swimmer’s shoulder is left untreated and is a much more serious injury which always requires surgery. This serious shoulder injury requires patients to practice motion exercises before getting back to any type of strength training and will put a swimmer out of the water for up to six months. You can prevent this serious injury by practicing safe swimming and warm up techniques, along with using anti-inflammatory medication to reduce swelling and icing the affected area.

Greater Waterbury Imaging Center cares about your health and safety while enjoying the sun and fun this summer. Remember to use SPF to prevent sun damage and practice safe swimming techniques when in the water. Contact us for all your MR imaging needs.

MRI Safety is the Utmost Importance at GWIC

MRI safety importance is a mandatory operational and business initiative at Greater Waterbury Imaging Center.  Magnetic Resonance Imaging, (MRI), is one of the most accurate diagnostic methods available to obtain images of the human body. MRI allows physicians and healthcare professionals to see the internal tissues and organs of the body without invasive surgical procedures and without using radiation. MRI machines use the magnetic properties of hydrogen and its interaction with radio waves and a large external magnetic field to generate detailed images inside the human body.

MRI Safety Importance

The importance of MRI safety cannot be overstated. MR technologists and staff must be fully aware of safety procedures and follow them at all times, keeping the area safe for all who enter the room. An MRI uses a powerful magnet which can pose real risks to people in the room. If an object is highly attracted to the magnet, it can be picked up and pulled into the magnet like a projectile. Along with creating a safe environment, anyone that comes in contact with the magnetic field must be screened for contraindications.

Contraindications include a number of health conditions and medical devices, which could harm the patient if not disclosed.

Patient Screening for MRI

Patient screening is critical prior to entering an MRI machine. There is a detailed checklist of questions that must be asked, all leading up to the most important question, what can go into the magnet? Some items are considered safe, some are unsafe, while others are conditional. MRI providers and technologists must be fully aware of any contraindications, situations that would warrant the MRI unsafe.

Absolute contraindications include any metallic foreign object in the eye, contact lenses referred to as “triggerfish”, which is a new type of contact lens that records pressures in the eye. These things can cause severe eye burn in a patient if undergoing an MRI. Additional absolute contraindications include gastro reflux devices, certain types of insulin pumps, and ​temporary external transvenous pacing leads as well as abandoned intracardiac pacing leads.
Relative contraindications are situations which should be carefully evaluated to determine if the benefit outweighs the risk of MRI. These include patient situations such as shrapnel in the body, pregnancy, spinal fixation hardware, certain cochlear implants, and many other situations which could pose a risk to patient safety.

Everyone in contact with the magnetic field should be screened for contraindications by a knowledgeable MR technician.

GWIC Practices Safe MRI Policies and Procedures

Greater Waterbury Imaging Center is continually updating our policies and procedures to identify and address any threats or concerns. Our MR safety program is constantly evaluated for any new risks as we continue to provide a safe environment for our patients. We provide a secure, gated parking lot where patients are allowed in by the receptionist. Once inside you’ll be given consent forms for the MRI exam, and an additional consent form if you’ll be administered contrast with your exam.

Prior to the exam, our MR technologist performs a thorough health risk assessment by asking a list of questions to alert of any contraindications. While this may seem repetitive, we may ask the same questions to be sure we clearly understand your medical history and any possible risks for MRI. We offer an MRI machine specifically for patients that may be claustrophobic which provides a little extra room to help patients with claustrophobic tendencies and anxiety. We provide earplugs as the noise of the magnets can be loud in the machine, or we can also provide music to help ease patient nerves and cut down noise.

Patients always have a call button to alert a technologist to any problems or needs during the exam. Once complete, our Radiologist reviews the images and dictates the reports that will be sent to your healthcare provider. You can always obtain a copy of your images on disk by calling our office to request a copy. You can learn more by visiting our website as we provide the patient tools like this quick video “What to Expect During Your MRI Exam” to assist with your exam before, during and after to provide your total safety and comfort.

MR technology provides a valuable tool to health care professionals and here at Greater Waterbury Imaging Center, we take your exam seriously and follow all safety procedures meticulously with each and every patient.

Greater Waterbury Imaging Center continually assesses our MRI safety program to identify and eliminate any possible risk to our patients’ health and well-being. We conduct a thorough health screening and evaluation for any possible contraindications associated with MR screening.  Contact us today to learn more about our facility and to schedule your MR imaging with a professional and safe MR provider.

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