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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.

Learn to Prevent Sports Injuries, Strains and Sprains

sports injuries

May is National Physical Fitness and Sports Month, and a good time to recognize the benefits of participating in sports and a physical fitness routine. While the benefits are numerous to people in all age groups, everyone should be careful to prevent sports injuries, strains and sprains.

Children and adolescents must engage in physical activity to promote bone health, muscular fitness and a healthy heart. Adults who participate in physical activity can actually lower their risk of developing type II diabetes, heart disease and some forms of cancer. Physical activity benefits older adults by improving cognitive functioning and lowering the risk of falling.

No matter your age group, it is never too late to begin a physical fitness regimen with your doctor’s approval. Just be sure to follow proper procedures such as warming up before and cooling down after physical activity and read more to learn how to not strain your muscles and joints.

There are Two Types of Physical and Sports Injuries

If you or a family member are participating in sports or physical fitness regimen, be aware of the types of injuries that could occur and learn how to prevent them. If you experience an injury during physical activity it is either an acute injury or chronic injury. An acute injury occurs suddenly such as an ankle sprain.

Chronic injuries occur from an ongoing sport or physical activity, causing an injury over a long period of time, such as knee problems or tennis elbow. People that sit at a computer screen all day are at risk for developing a chronic condition known as RSI, Repetitive Strain Injury, which encompasses several different conditions caused from repetitive motions. There are many things you can do to help prevent RSI and other chronic physical conditions caused from sports or physical activity.

Symptoms of  Physical and Sports Injuries

Your symptoms will vary depending on the type of injury. Acute injuries often present with the following symptoms:

  • Swelling
  • Sudden and severe pain
  • Tenderness in arm, elbow, wrist, hand or finger
  • Unable to put weight on a knee, leg, foot or ankle
  • Inability to move joints as normal
  • Extreme weakness in arms or legs
  • A joint or bone that is visibly out of place

Chronic injuries occur over longer periods of time with the following symptoms:

  • Pain or tenderness
  • Swelling
  • Constant dull ache even at rest
  • Pain when participating in the activity or sport

Treatment for Sports Injuries

Initial treatment for sports injuries usually begins with the R-I-C-E method:

Rest – Decrease the activity causing pain and rest your injured area
Ice – Use an ice pack or a cold pack on the injury 4 to 8 times per day in 20-minute intervals
Compression – Putting pressure on the injured area will help to reduce swelling
Elevation – Elevate the injured area above your heart

More serious injuries must be treated with medications, limited mobility, physical therapy and sometimes surgery. Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs such as ibuprofen help to decrease pain and swelling.

You can Prevent Many Sports and Physical Injuries by Practicing Safe Habits

Knowing what causes sports injuries will help you learn how to prevent them. It is very important to warm up before any exercise or playing any sport and performing physical activity while not in shape for it can cause injury. Follow these tips to remain injury free so that you can keep enjoying your physical activity:

  • Always do warm up exercises before playing sports
  • Stretch before you play or exercise
  • Know your limits and don’t do more than you can
  • Wear properly fitting shoes that absorb shock and are stable
  • Exercise on soft surfaces when possible, never run on concrete or asphalt
  • Prevent knee and back strain by not bending knees more than half way
  • Land with knees bent when jumping
  • Prevent RSI by maintaining proper posture when typing on a computer
  • Do not be a weekend warrior and do too much activity in a day or two

With the warm weather upon us, it’s tempting to get outside and do everything we’ve been wanting to over the long winter months. Be sure to pace yourself, take the time to warm up, stretch, and be smart about your physical limitations.

Greater Waterbury Imaging Center cares about your health and wellness. We encourage people of all ages to maintain a physically active lifestyle, within your personal limitations. Continue to practice safe habits during sports and physical activity, and contact us with all your MR imaging needs.

Learn How to Help Raise Awareness to Alcohol Abuse

The National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence, the NCADD, reports that 17.6 million people, or one in every twelve adults in the United States, has a problem with dependence or abuse of alcohol. Alcohol is the most commonly abused addictive substance in the U.S., with millions more engaging in dangerous binge drinking which can lead to serious problems caused by alcohol. Drinking in excess increases chances of violence, drowning, injuries, liver disease and even some forms of cancer.

April is Alcohol Awareness Month and Greater Waterbury Imaging Center encourages you to learn more about the dangers of drinking alcohol in excess. We are all aware of the dangers of drinking and driving, yet the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reports that alcohol impaired driving fatalities average more than 10,000 per year across the United States, with an average of 104 per year in Connecticut alone, for the 10-year span from 2007 – 2016.

Steps to Cut Down on Alcohol Abuse

If you or someone you care about is drinking alcohol in excess, you can greatly improve your health by quitting or cutting back. Here are some things you can do to avoid drinking too much alcohol:

  • Make a list of reasons not to drink or over use alcohol
  • Avoid places where people are drinking a lot like bars
  • Do no drink when you are upset
  • Limit alcohol you have available in the home
  • Limit yourself to no more than 1 alcoholic drink per day for women, or 2 per day for men

We can raise awareness in April during Alcohol Awareness Month about the dangers of alcohol abuse and how to take action to prevent serious consequences.

Effects of Alcohol on Your Health and Your Liver

Alcohol abuse takes a great toll on the body, especially the liver. The liver is the largest internal organ in the body which plays a very important role in metabolism, specifically the way that cells convert food into energy after the food is digested and absorbed into the bloodstream. Some of the very important functions of this vital organ include:

  • Storing and processing the nutrients from food, including sugar, protein and fat, and delivering them to the rest of the body when needed.
  • Removing waste products that the kidney cannot remove, such as toxins, medications, fats and cholesterol
  • Producing bile which helps the body absorb cholesterol, fats and fat-soluble vitamins
  • Producing new proteins such as immune and clotting factors

The liver is a vital organ required for survival and regenerates its damaged cells automatically. If the damage to the liver is long term or severe, however, the liver cannot completely regenerate and scar tissue develops. This scarring, or fibrosis, on the liver can lead to cirrhosis of the liver.

Cirrhosis of the Liver

Cirrhosis is a condition that occurs when scarring develops on the liver and begins to replace healthy tissue. This scar tissue blocks normal blood flow in the liver which deteriorates over time, preventing normal function. Scar tissue build up causing cirrhosis is a gradual, slow process that gets worse over time, sometimes years or decades. As the disease progresses, the liver begins failing until reaching end-stage liver disease when the liver cannot perform its vital functions or regenerate and replace damaged cells.
Cirrhosis of the liver is the 12th leading cause of death in the United States causing nearly 32,000 deaths each year, with more men than women dying of the disease.

What Causes Cirrhosis?

The main cause of liver cirrhosis is chronic Hepatitis C. Hepatitis C is caused from a viral infection causing swelling, inflammation and damage to the liver. There are now advanced treatments for Hepatitis C, and doctors can treat patients before developing cirrhosis or fibrosis.

Alcohol abuse is the second most common cause of cirrhosis of the liver, typically caused by heavy drinking over several years. Most people who consume alcohol socially do not develop liver cirrhosis, although the amount of alcohol that is required to damage the liver is different for each person. Researchers have established what appears to be a safe limit of alcohol consumption to no more than one drinks per day for a woman and no more than two drinks per day for men. Drinking more than this amount may lead to inflammation in the liver which could lead to cirrhosis over several years.

The facts are clear, abusing alcohol leads to serious consequences with your health, and with risky behavior such as drunk driving, behaving aggressively or foolishly. Help us to spread the word on safe alcohol consumption and how to avoid serious health problems like cirrhosis of the liver.

If you need help with alcohol or drug dependencies, contact the NCADD for assistance and free resources.

Great Waterbury Imaging Center is a modern, clean and friendly magnetic resonance (MR) diagnostic imaging facility that goes the extra mile to make sure our patients are comfortable and informed. We care about your health and well-being and urge you to spread the word about the dangers of alcohol abuse. Contact us with any questions and for all your MRI imaging needs.

Colorectal Cancer Screening Saves Lives

colorectal cancer screening.jpg

Colorectal cancer is the second leading cause of death from cancer and is the third most common cancer in the United States. It is estimated that about 50,000 people will die from colorectal cancer every year, with more than 135,000 people diagnosed with the disease. About 1 in every 24 women and 1 in 22 men will get a new diagnosis of colorectal cancer sometime during their life. Colorectal cancer affects all racial and ethnic groups although it is more common in people over 50.

The Development of Colorectal Cancer

Colorectal cancer is a broad term to describe cancer of the colon, the rectum, or both. They may be called colon or rectal cancer, but they are very similar. Most colorectal cancers start as a polyp, a growth on the inner lining of the color or the rectum. Polyps can develop into cancer over many years, but not all polyps turn into cancer as there are two main types of polyps.

Hyperplastic polyps and inflammatory polyps are the most common and are not pre-cancerous. The other type is called Adenomatous Polyps (Adenomas) and are considered to be pre-cancerous as they can develop into cancer.

In addition to the type of polyp, other characteristics contribute to the risk of developing colorectal cancer. If the polyp is larger than 1 cm, there are more than two, and there is dysplasia after removal (dysplasia is abnormal cells but not yet cancer) there is an increased risk of developing cancer.

Risk Factors for Colorectal Cancer

There are several risk factors and health conditions that contribute to the risk of developing colon cancer, which include:

Age – While younger adults can develop colorectal cancer, it is more common in people over 50, and your risk increases with your age.

Personal history of polyps – Having a history of adenomas that were large or in numbers.

Personal history of inflammatory bowel disease – If you have either inflammatory bowel disease,(IBD), Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis, you have an increased risk of developing colorectal cancer.

Family history of colorectal cancer – Having an immediate family member such as a parent or sibling with colorectal cancer will put you at an increased risk, especially if they were diagnosed before the age of 45.

Lack of Physical Activity – You are at an increased risk of developing colorectal cancer if you are physically inactive.

Being overweight – If you are overweight or obese you have an increased risk of developing colorectal cancer.

Diets high in red meats – Diets that are high in red meats such as beef, pork, liver, lamb or processed luncheon meats can raise your risk of developing colorectal cancer.

Smoking and excessive alcohol use – There is an increased risk of developing colorectal cancer with excessive drinking and smoking.

Use this Colorectal Cancer Risk Assessment Tool from The National Cancer Institute for more information. Talk to your doctor about your concerns and learn about several screening tests available.

Colorectal Cancer Screening Saves Lives

It is easier to treat colon cancer when caught early. The American Cancer Society recommends screenings for early detection and prevention. Finding and removing polyps prevents them from developing into cancer. Women and men at average risk are recommended to begin with screening tests at the age of 50. There are tests that find polyps and cancer, and some that mainly detect cancer.

Screening tests that are used to detect polyps and cancer include:

Colonoscopy recommended every 10 years
CT Colonography (virtual colonoscopy) recommended every 5 years
Double-contrast barium enema, every 5 years
Flexible sigmoidoscopy. every 5 years

The following tests are used to mainly detect cancer:

Guaiac-based fecal occult blood test (gFOBT), each year
Fecal immunochemical test (FIT), each year
Stool DNA every three years

Talk to your doctor about which test is right for you. For more information you can use this colorectal screening test interactive tool from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to help you decide which tests are right for you.

Colorectal Cancer Can be Prevented with Screenings

About 60% of deaths caused by colorectal cancer could be prevented with regular screenings. Let’s prevent the number of people diagnosed with colorectal cancer and reduce the number of deaths caused by this disease. We can use Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month to spread the word that regular screenings saves lives.

Greater Waterbury Imaging Center urges you to spread the word about Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month, remind your friends and family that screening saves lives and talk to your doctor about the right screening test for you. Contact us for all your medical imaging needs.

February is American Heart Month

February is American Heart Month, and a good time to bring awareness to the number one cause of death for both women and men in the United States which is heart disease. According to information released from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) in December of 2016, each year about 630,000 Americans will die from heart disease. This accounts for approximately one out of every four deaths, with just as many women affected by heart disease as men.

Every 40 seconds in the United States, someone experiences a heart attack, with someone dying every minute of a heart related event.

It is Important to Act Quickly in the Case of a Heart Attack

When the blood supply is cut off to the heart, the heart muscle will not receive enough oxygen rich blood and the cells of the heart muscle will begin to die. it is important to act quickly in the case of a heart attack, as there is increased damage to the heart with every second that passes.

Each year there are approximately 790,000 people in the United States that experience a heart attack, with nearly 75% of those being a first heart attack, and 15% of them not surviving the cardiac event.

Recognizing the Symptoms of a Heart Attack

Recognizing the symptoms of a heart attack can save a life as early administration of emergency treatment greatly increases someone’s chance for survival.

The following are major warning signs of a heart attack:

Chest pain and discomfort
Shortness of Breath
Nausea, cold sweats and lightheadedness
Pain or discomfort in the neck, jaw, arms, back, or upper stomach

Studies from the CDC have shown that nearly half of all cardiac deaths occur outside of a hospital, which indicates that not enough people are acting early on signs and symptoms. While most people know that chest pain is a symptom of a heart attack, only about one fourth of people surveyed are aware of all symptoms. You do not have to be experiencing all symptoms, any of these alone or in combination are major warning signs of a heart attack.

Do not hesitate to call 911 if you suspect you or someone else is experiencing a heart attack.

Risk Factors for Heart Disease

The key risk factors for heart disease are smoking, high cholesterol and high blood pressure, although there are additional risk factors as well. Health conditions that increase the risk of developing heart disease include:

  • High blood pressure
  • High cholesterol
  • History of a previous heart attack or stroke
  • Diabetes
  • Being overweight
  • Following a poor diet
  • Physical Inactivity
  • Smoking
  • Using alcohol in excess

Be sure to speak with your doctor about your health conditions to stay on a plan for successful management, and improved heart health. There are several things that you can do to protect yourself from developing heart disease and to enjoy an overall improved level of fitness.

How to Manage Your Heart Health

There is good news when it comes to keeping your heart healthy. There are many things that you can do to improve your heart health, and your overall level of fitness. Heart disease can be prevented by making healthy choices and managing your health conditions.

Some things you can do to protect your heart include:

  • Watch your weight
  • Quit smoking and avoid second-hand smoke
  • Drink alcohol only in moderation
  • Get enough exercise and activity
  • Eat a healthy diet
  • Control your blood pressure and cholesterol

The one thing that you can do that makes the most difference to enhance your quality of life, overall health including heart health, is to quit smoking. You can download a How to Quit Smoking or Smokeless Tobacco Guide from the American Cancer Society for more information, and don’t give up. It’s never too late to quit, stopping today is the first step to improving your health and future.

How You Can Make a Difference

Let’s use February and American Heart Month to raise awareness in our own homes and our communities about what we can do to take care of our hearts for a lifetime of improved health. Encourage family members and friends to make small changes, such as using less salt and more seasonings in cooking or taking the stairs instead of the elevator.

Talk to your children about heart health and speak with their teachers about programs to increase physical activity during the school day. Ask what programs are aimed at instilling good heart healthy habits into the children at an early age.

Together, we can raise awareness on heart disease, how to respond in case of a heart attack emergency, and how to prevent heart disease and related cardiac events.

GWIC encourages you to maintain a heart healthy diet and exercise program, stop smoking and manage your health conditions for a longer, fulfilling life. Contact us for professional and personal, caring service with all your medical imaging needs.

Claustrophobia Does Not Have to Hinder Your MRI Exam

MRI scanning is a vitally important diagnostic tool, allowing physicians to diagnose and treat a whole host of health conditions from a broken bone to dangerous tumors. When a person suffering from claustrophobia needs an MRI, however, it can be challenging to obtain the necessary images, thus hindering the ability to continue with the proper treatment. These concerns must be addressed in order to provide medical treatment to people suffering from claustrophobia.

Claustrophobia is a phobia that is typically characterized by a fear of dark, confined spaces which can occur anytime that someone feels as if they are trapped and cannot get out. According to HealthResearchFunding.org, Claustrophobia affects up to 5% of the general population in the United States, including mild versions of the phobia. Further studies revealed that up to 13% of patients reported having panic attacks during MRI procedures, with approximately 1.22% prematurely terminating the exam due to feelings of claustrophobia.

This is a real issue for patients and medical imaging specialists, leading to new techniques and MRI scanners to assist those with this phobia of confined spaces.

Today, there are MRI options available to patients suffering from claustrophobia with modern equipment that is more open and less constricting. Even faster techniques are available so that patients can still get the diagnostic images they need without having an anxiety attack.

GWIC Offers MRI Equipment with Advanced Technology to Assist Those with Claustrophobia

Greater Waterbury Imaging Centers realizes how important it is that you receive the scan your physician has ordered for your medical care. We also realize how difficult it can be for some patients to remain still for up to twenty minutes or more while in a confined space, without experiencing anxiety.

GWIC utilizes MRI equipment with advanced technology such as the 1.5T Optima 450W MRI scanner which holds patients up to 450 lbs. This open-ended scanner gives patients the opportunity to enter feet first, which is extremely beneficial to those requiring scans of lower extremities such as the foot, leg or knee. Avoiding the usual entry method of head first is a solution for these patients.

Other accommodations offered by GWIC to help those suffering with this phobia include:

  • Well-lit and ventilated scanners that are open on both ends
  • Ear plugs are provided to block out the loud noises caused by MRI equipment which can just annoy or startle some patients and may cause anxiety in others
  • Knowledgeable and experienced MRI technologists that understand your anxiety and communicate with you throughout the test to alleviate your symptoms. You will always know how long the test will take and what you should expect.
  • A call button is provided so that you can alert the technologist to stop the scan if you need a break or further accommodations
  • GWIC offers Propeller technology which uses motion correction to obtain images faster minimizing the need for repeat images
  • Lavender aromatherapy personal tabs are provided to help calm the patient with soothing lavender scent. The adhesive tabs can be placed on the patient’s clothing and emit the scent for up to 8 hours. These have been proven to be very helpful in reducing anxiety and claustrophobia
  • Sleep masks help to calm some patients, especially when used in conjunction with ear plugs some patients feel so calm they almost fall asleep during the exam

If you experience any claustrophobic symptoms or fear that you may have difficulty completing your MRI exam, please speak to our experienced technologists. While we do not provide anesthesia, we often refer patients back to their physician for anti-anxiety medication which can help most patients to complete their exam.  Be encouraged to call us to arrange a visit and tour of our imaging center to set your mind at ease before your exam.

During a six-month period here at GWIC, only 1% of our patients were referred for anti-anxiety treatment to complete their MRI exam, and with over 70% of those patients returning to complete their scans successfully and comfortably. If you have a fear of confined spaces but need medical imaging exams, please do not put off your treatment when there are viable options available.

Our Non-Claustrophobic MRI Scanner has helped alleviate this debilitating phobia and allow these patients to obtain the medical imaging scans they require.

Greater Waterbury Imaging Center employs skilled technologists that care about your comfort, safety and overall health. Feel free to discuss any fears or concerns about your MRI scan with your physician and contact GWIC with any questions you may have about your medical imaging scans.

Prevent Hip Fractures with These Fall Prevention Tips

With winter in full swing in the northeastern area of New England, we must be extra careful to avoid falls when walking on icy, snow covered ground and to watch out for our older friends and relatives to help them avoid a slip and fall. Traveling for the Holidays can present challenges and dangerous situations for the elderly who are already at a risk for falling. Please be aware of anyone in a fall risk category and offer your assistance whenever possible, you just might save a life.

A broken hip is one of the most serious of injuries caused by falling, as it is difficult to recover from a hip fracture making it impossible for some to live on their own. One in five falls results in a severe injury, such as a traumatic head injury or broken bones. Every year more than 300,000 people over the age of 65 are hospitalized for hip fractures, with 95% of all hip fractures caused by falling, usually falling sideways. This number is expected to increase along with the age of the US population.

Risk Factors That Increase Your Chance of Falling

There are several risk factors that increase your chances of falling, and the more risk factors you have the more likely you are to experience a debilitating fall. Anyone over the age of 65 is in a fall risk category, and should speak with their doctor if experiencing any of the following risk factors to receive managed care by a trained physician.

  • Women are more likely to fall and break a hip than men, with women experiencing 75% of all hip fractures. This is because more women have osteoporosis which is a disease that weakens bones making them more susceptible to breaking.
  • Weakness in your lower body increases your chance of falling, as this makes it more difficult to support your body weight when standing or walking.
  • Difficulties with balance or walking present a high-risk factor for falling, this includes people with vertigo or dizziness which must be managed by a trained physician.
  • A Vitamin D Deficiency contributes to a high-risk factor of falling, as Vitamin D helps the body to absorb calcium, and works to slow down bone mineral loss.
  • Vision impairments contribute to the risk of falling, as it may be difficult to see objects laying in the way of your foot path, or to judge the distance when coming up or down steps.
  • Improperly fitting foot wear and foot pain poses a risk for falling. Please be sure that you or your loved one with any risk factor have properly fitting, orthopedic shoes with a non-slip sole.
  • Over the counter and prescription medication use can contribute to one feeling dizzy and unsteady on their feet.
  • Hazards in the home such as throw rugs, clutter or uneven steps pose a fall hazard and should immediately be remedied to prevent a fall.

There are many things that you can do to help improve these risk factors to avoid a catastrophic fall. A hip fracture is often the catalyst to a chain of events leading to debilitation and often-times death in the elderly. Becoming bed-ridden and hospitalized drastically increases your chances of developing pneumonia, which is the most common cause of death following a hip fracture.

Prevent Falls and Reduce Your Odds of Hip Fractures

There are many things we can do to prevent falls and reduce the risk of serious injuries such as hip fractures due to falls.

  • Speak with your physician – talking to your doctor about your risk factors, review any medications that might make you sleepy including over the counter medicine, get screened for osteoporosis and ask about Vitamin D supplements to maintain a healthy level of Vitamin D.
  • Do balance and strengthening exercises – strengthening your lower body with exercises that make your legs stronger is a great way to help prevent falls.
  • Have your eyes checked regularly – Have your eyes examined annually to update any prescription for glasses as your vision can change within a year’s time.
  • Get fitted for properly fitting orthopedic shoes and see a podiatrist for any lingering foot pain or problems.
  • Fall proof your home – remove throw rugs, add grab bars in the bathroom near the tub, shower and toilet, and install railings on both sides of the stairs. Make sure you have bright lighting in your home, and consider using brighter light bulbs.

For more information please visit the National Council on Aging for Fall Prevention tips, news and resources. Be sure use caution when walking outdoors in winter weather or when visiting relatives during the Holidays. Not every home you visit will practice the same fall prevention tips used in your own home, don’t be shy about asking for a cleared path to walk or for help in getting around either outdoors or indoors.

Greater Waterbury Imaging Center cares about your health and safety, and reminds you to talk to your doctor about your fall risk and prevention tips. Remember to use caution in your home and when traveling for any reason. Your safety is our number one concern. Contact us for more information and for all your medical imaging needs.

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