Thursday, February 28, 2013

What is 3D Mammography?

Recently in our blog, we posted about how a large study showed the benefits of adding 3D mammography (also called breast tomosynthesis) to regular mammography. In this blog post, we answer a few questions about 3D mammography.

Q: Who might benefit from adding 3D mammography to their traditional mammogram?
A:  All women could potentially benefit from 3D mammography since it has been shown to increase cancer detection while lowering the risk of false-positive results. However, it appears that women with dense breasts may see the most benefits. A recent Yale study found that women with extremely dense breasts had a 57% reduction in being called back for additional testing when 3D mammography was used. Younger women also had reduced call back rates when 3D mammography was used.

Q: Does 3D mammography replace my regular mammogram?
A: No. 3D mammography is an add-on to your regular mammogram. It allows physicians to see a
     3-dimensional view of your breast tissue and helps them to identify even very tiny tumors.

Q: Will there be more compression necessary to get the 3D images?
A. No! Your breast will be under the same amount of pressure as during a regular mammogram. The X-ray tube makes an 8-second arc over your breasts, while 15 low-dose images are taken from various angles. These images are then put into a special computer program that creates the 3D images.

Q: Is there more radiation exposure from adding 3D to my regular mammogram?
A: Yes, however the radiation exposure is still well below FDA levels. Zwanger-Pesiri Radiology is committed to using the lowest dose of radiation possible by utilizing state-of-the-art technology to reduce radiation exposure.  We also participate in the Image Wisely program to eliminate unnecessary scans and lower radiation doses.

Q: How specifically could 3D mammography benefit women with dense breasts?
A:  In a mammogram, fatty tissue shows up dark, while dense breast tissue shows up white. Unfortunately, potentially cancerous spots also show up white, making them harder to spot in dense breasts. 3D imaging creates pictures of millimeter-thin slices of breast tissue, helping radiologists to see through overlapping tissue and better identify potential cancers. Radiologists end up seeing 70 to 100 views of each breast, rather than just two images using conventional mammography. More views equals more accurate images which means better diagnoses.

Q: Which Zwanger-Pesiri Radiology locations offer 3D mammography?
A:  ZPR is pleased to offer 3D mammography at all of our locations, except East Setauket.

If you have any questions about 3D mammography, feel free to email us!

Monday, February 18, 2013

Heart-Healthy Tips

Hearts are not just for Valentine's Day ... February is also American Heart Month. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), about 715,000 Americans suffer from a heart attack and about 600,000 die from heart disease every year. Heart disease is the number one cause of death for both men and women in this country.

As a general rule, heart disease doesn't happen overnight. The most common form of heart disease -- Coronary Artery Disease (CAD)-- happens when plaque builds up in the arteries that supply blood to the heart. The good news is that there are steps you can take to reduce the risk of heart disease. It's far easier to prevent heart disease from happening in the first place than it is to treat it. Here are some tips for avoiding a "broken heart:"

- Eat a heart-healthy diet. Eat a diet low in saturated fats, trans fats, cholesterol and sodium, and increase your intake of fiber, fresh fruits and vegetables, and whole grains. Watch your portion sizes. Avoid processed, fried and fast-foods. If this sounds too daunting, at least start by cutting back on your fat intake and increase your intake of fresh fruits and vegetables.

- Stop smoking! Smoking is bad for almost every part of you, but it's particularly bad for your heart because it causes it to have to work harder. Nicotine narrows your blood vessels and increases your heart rate and blood pressure, and carbon monoxide in cigarette smoke  replaces some oxygen in the blood, raising blood pressure and forcing your heart to work harder to pump blood. The good news? The minute you stop smoking you lower your risk of heart disease, and the risk drops dramatically within just one year. So make the choice to stop now.

- Maintain a healthy weight. This is good advice for your health in general. Excess weight leads to conditions that increase the risk of heart disease such as diabetes, high blood pressure and high cholesterol. Head this disease off at the pass by maintaining a healthy weight. Are you in the right weight range? Use a Body Mass Index calculator to find out -- you can find one here. Another way to tell if you're maintaining a healthy weight is to measure your waist. Men are considered overweight if their waist measurement is greater than 40 inches; women are considered overweight if their waist measurement is greater than 35 inches.

- Exercise. Experts suggest that regular daily exercise can reduce the risk of fatal heart disease. They recommend 30 to 60 minutes of moderate exercise, most days of the week. But ANY amount of exercise provides health benefits, so if you can't commit that much time, just do what you can. And remember that walking, gardening and housework all count as exercise. Simple steps, like parking farther away from your destination, or taking the stairs rather than the elevator, can help you add exercise to your day in an easy way.

- Get regular health screenings. Certain conditions, such as diabetes, high blood pressure and high cholesterol, can dramatically increase your risk of heart disease by causing damage to your heart and blood vessels. You should be regularly screened by your physician for these conditions, since managing them is the key to staying heart-healthy.

- Manage chronic diseases. If you have diabetes, high blood pressure or high cholesterol, it is essential that you take your medications as directed, in order to prevent damage to your heart. Because there are few noticeable symptoms of these conditions, people sometimes feel that they can be ignored. They can't. There is a high correlation between uncontrolled diabetes and heart attack.

- Drink alcohol only in moderation. Too much alcohol can increase blood pressure, thus putting a strain on your heart. Stick to no more than one drink a day for women, two for men. A compound in red wine, called resveratrol, shows some promise in protecting the heart, so consider a glass of wine rather than hard liquor.

Taking care of yourself now can mean less problems down the road. Coronary CT Angiography (CCTA) is a test which allows doctors to check for narrowed arteries in the heart that can put you at risk for a heart attack. Cardiac MRI is an MRI scan of the heart and blood vessels, and provides 3-dimensional pictures, as well as moving video pictures of the heart beating and blood flowing through the chambers and valves.

At Zwanger-Pesiri Radiology, we care about our patients as people and wish you a heart-healthy February and beyond.