What Questions Should a 50 Year Old Ask Their Radiologist?

As we age, and everyone does, it is important to take a more engaged approach to medical examinations and to have questions for your doctor to answer regarding your health and future procedures. As you get older, different bodies react to aging in different ways. Male and female health are two very different matters but what they have in common is the need for proper and personalized medical attention.

The advances made in medical technology have made it so that people can lead longer, fuller and healthier lives but there has also never been a higher prevalence of afflictions such as cancer and heart disease in both men and women. According to the World Health Organization, cardiovascular disease, including coronary attacks and stroke, kill more people globally than any other known cause, measuring a total of 30% of the world’s deaths globally.

Beyond heart disease, cancer is a close competitor as one of the leading causes of death, accounting for 8.2 million deaths in 2012. The leading cancers are lung, liver, stomach, colorectal and breast but the rates differ between men and women. Age plays a significant role in the concern about cancer deaths. For men, the mortality rates of cancer quadruple between ages 40 and 50 and for women it triples. These statistics demonstrate that those reaching the age of 50 are not automatically considered ill, just that the body changes and one’s health may take a larger spotlight in one’s life. Both of these statistics maintain that an appreciable percentage of cardiovascular disease and cancer come from environmental factors such as high body mass index, lack of nutritious diet, tobacco and alcohol use, physical inactivity and high blood pressure.

When speaking to your doctor or radiologist you should be sure to inform them of your lifestyle choices and any environmental factors that may contribute to poor health. Regardless of whether these questions are personally embarrassing to you, they can help your doctor find the right procedure or treatment plan to ensure your best health.

When speaking to your doctor they may recommend having certain imaging procedures performed that can help to better determine the condition of one’s health and longevity. A radiologist will likely perform these procedures as small amounts of radiation are used in medical imaging technology as the manner of producing images of the internal structures.

Some questions you should consider asking your radiologist are:

1. Which imaging procedures should I consider?

The best defense against illness is a good offense. By getting as much as information as you possibly can, you and your doctor can decide which course of action is most suitable for you. X-rays are generally reserved for injuries such as fractures and breakages of the bones. But if you have rheumatoid arthritis or your family has a history, an X-ray could be illuminating of any indication that you will have it as well. CT-scans can be helpful in identifying the existence of breast cancer and cardiovascular disease. Mammograms are the best form of preventative imaging for breast cancer. MRIs are useful in determining the possibility of stroke as well as joint and musculoskeletal conditions. PET-CT scans are primarily used for examining conditions in the brain and heart such as tumors and harmful clots. Ultrasounds are adept at examining the body’s internal  organs for malformations and cancers. These procedures may seem overwhelming so ask your doctor and radiologist to help you navigate the best procedures for your health.

2. My family members had heart disease and cancer, what are my chances of developing it as well?

The chances of developing any disease are conditional even if your family has them. The largest contributing factors are lifestyle choices and medical prevention. There are those who have family members with these diseases and never develop them and vice versa, but if you are concerned, having imaging procedures and medical tests performed by your physician can help determine if you are at higher risk for developing these conditions. Having yearly physicals and imaging procedures performed regularly after the age of 50 can help you stay on top of your health and top of your game.

3. Are these procedures painful?

The majority of the procedures mentioned in this article are relatively painless which makes other’s negligence to have them performed all the more inconceivable. The most uncomfortable part of any of these procedures is the possibility of an injection of contrast fluid. Contrast fluid is a liquid that is transmitted to the patient through an IV, swallowing, or inhalation so that things like clots, tumors and abnormalities can be highlighted for the doctor to see. Other than that, any pain or discomfort is largely on part of anxiety regarding the exam and possible results. Most are afraid to have these procedures performed because they are scared about what the results may tell but having the information can help your doctor give you the best diagnosis possible so that you can start getting better, sooner.

Staying in communication with your doctor and maintaining a healthy lifestyle can be some of the easiest ways that you can stay healthy and live longer. But if you have other concerns or just want to be assured, speak with your doctor about your changing health and any preventive measures that you could be performing.

This article was written by M.G. Bachemin in association with Doctors Imaging, radiologists in Metairie, LA.  For more information, please go to http://www.doctorsimaging.com