West Hills Hospital & Medical Center
West Hills Hospital & Medical Center is your community resource for better health. We have the capability and expertise to perform emergency open heart procedures, perform brain and spine surgery.

How sports can benefit your child

Whether it’s a traditional youth sport like soccer or baseball, or a less conventional choice like fencing or curling, there’s no question that sports are beneficial for kids. However, there can also be some health and safety concerns. Schedule a pre-participation physical exam for your child before he or she joins a sports team. You’ll find comprehensive, patient-centered care for your whole family at West Hills Hospital.

Sports reduce the risk of childhood obesity
Sports are a much healthier alternative to sedentary activities like video games and television. Many kids don’t get enough exercise. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, children and teens ages six through 17 should get one hour or more of physical activity each day.

Exercising regularly helps prevent childhood obesity. This supports your child’s health now and throughout his or her lifetime. By maintaining a healthy weight, your child can reduce his or her risk of chronic diseases, such as:

  • Type 2 diabetes
  • Heart disease
  • Certain cancers

Exercise also supports healthy bone development, reducing the risk of osteoporosis later in life.

Sports support children’s socio-emotional health
Humans aren’t born with social skills. Children learn these skills as they grow, and sports help kids acquire them. Sports support the development of:

  • Leadership skills
  • Sportsmanship
  • Cooperation
  • Teamwork
  • Communication
  • Problem solving

Sports can also help kids develop emotional resiliency. They gain confidence and self-esteem by working with teammates to achieve a common goal. Kids also learn that it’s okay to fail sometimes, and that what truly matters is the ability to get back up on one’s feet and try again.

Sports participation supports academic success
Most kids probably aren’t trying to solve math problems while scoring goals on the field, but participating in sports does indeed support academic achievement. Sports teach kids the value of dedication, hard work and time management, and these are invaluable skills they can apply to their studies.

Accidents happen from time to time, even after taking precautions like giving your kids protective equipment for their sports activities. If your child suffers a sports injury, the emergency care physicians and nurses at West Hills Hospital are always here to help. For non-emergent questions, call a registered nurse in West Hills at (818) 676-4321.

Understanding the basics of hepatitis

Hepatitis is a viral infection that affects the liver. There are five different viruses that cause various forms of hepatitis. They are: Hepatitis A, B, C, D and E. Some forms of hepatitis are quite serious, and may lead to life-threatening complications. Consider talking to a doctor at West Hills Hospital about whether you should get screened for hepatitis.

Signs and symptoms of hepatitis
The symptoms of hepatitis may not develop right away after exposure. It’s also possible to have hepatitis and not experience any symptoms. When symptoms do occur, they may include:

  • Dark yellow urine
  • Persistent fatigue
  • Fever
  • Gray or clay-colored stools
  • Joint pain
  • Loss of appetite
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Abdominal pain
  • Jaundice (yellowing of the skin and whites of the eyes)

Methods of transmission of hepatitis
The hepatitis viruses can be transmitted a number of different ways. Knowing the method of transmission can help people take steps to protect their health. Doctors also recommend getting vaccines to guard against hepatitis A and B.

Hepatitis A is transmitted through contact with contaminated food or water. People can also contract the virus with close personal contact, such as serving as a caregiver to an infected person or having sex with an infected person.

Hepatitis B is transmitted through contact with infected bodily fluids, including blood and semen. Hepatitis B can spread from a mother to her newborn, between sexual partners, by sharing infected needles or by having contact with the open wound of an infected person.

Hepatitis C and D are also spread through contact with infected bodily fluids. However, a person can only contract hepatitis D if he or she has also had a hepatitis B infection.

Hepatitis E spreads through contaminated food and water.

Patients with hepatitis, and those who may have been exposed to a hepatitis virus, will find comprehensive and compassionate care at West Hills Hospital. Our skilled doctors and nurses are committed to providing world-class medical care because the health of our West Hills community is important to us. Call a registered nurse at (818) 676-4321 if you would like information about our specialty services.

What causes pain from arthritis?

Arthritis is an umbrella term for more than 100 different diseases and related conditions. It’s quite common, and the chronic pain can be debilitating for some patients. Although conditions like osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis aren’t curable, they can be effectively managed with help from the orthopedic specialists at West Hills Hospital—a renowned spine hospital.

How osteoarthritis causes pain
Your joints have a protective cushion of cartilage that prevents the ends of the two bones from rubbing together when you move. But if you have osteoarthritis, often called wear and tear arthritis, this cartilage starts to break down. Eventually, the cartilage may be so damaged and worn away that the bones do start to rub together.

The loss of the protective cartilage can cause considerable pain. People with osteoarthritis feel more pain during activity and less while at rest. Osteoarthritis most often affects these joints:

  • Knees
  • Hips
  • Hands

How rheumatoid arthritis causes pain
Rheumatoid arthritis is quite different from osteoarthritis. It’s an autoimmune disease, in which the body’s own immune system is tricked into attacking healthy tissue. The joint pain of RA occurs when the immune system attacks the synovial membrane, which is the lining of the joints.

The attack of the synovial membrane causes painful swelling. Over time, RA can result in joint deformity and bone erosion.

In many cases, RA can also cause the immune system to attack other areas of the body, including the lungs, heart, salivary glands and eyes. When this occurs, the symptoms aren’t strictly localized to the affected joints.

How gout causes pain
Gout causes acute episodes of intense pain. Usually, it affects the base of the big toe. The pain and inflammation of gout occur when urate crystals build up in the affected joint.

Urate crystals are formed from uric acid, which in turn is produced by the metabolism of purines. Purines are a substance found naturally in the body. They’re also present in many foods, like seafood and steak.

If the body has trouble getting rid of excessive amounts of purines, uric acid levels can increase, potentially causing urate crystals to accumulate. These crystals are sharp, and can cause inflammation, swelling and pain when they settle into tissues.

The Total Joint Team at West Hills Hospital is on a mission to help each of our patients live life well despite their arthritis. Our highly trained team includes board-certified and fellowship-trained orthopedic surgeons, who can guide you in making an informed decision for your healthcare. Residents in the West Hills area can get in touch with a registered nurse by calling (818) 676-4321.

What you need to know about cholesterol and stroke

Hundreds of thousands of Americans suffer from a stroke each year. Many of them don’t survive or develop long-term disabilities, and strokes are often preventable. Consider talking to a physician at West Hills Hospital about your risk of stroke. Your doctor may recommend having a cholesterol test. Remember that if you do experience any possible symptoms of stroke, you should call 911 immediately to request emergency care.

How stroke occurs
There are two primary categories of stroke: Ischemic and hemorrhagic. Hemorrhagic stroke occurs when a blood vessel leaks and bleeds on the brain. Ischemic strokes occur when a blood vessel supplying blood to the brain becomes obstructed, depriving part of the brain of its crucial supply.

Most strokes are ischemic strokes. Many medical problems can contribute to clot formation and, consequently, a stroke. One of them is having high cholesterol levels.

How cholesterol causes atherosclerosis
Cholesterol is a waxy type of fat that’s found throughout your body. If you have too much cholesterol in your body, you’re at an increased risk of atherosclerosis.

Atherosclerosis is a condition in which the blood vessels get clogged up with fatty deposits called plaque. Plaques can harden and cause the arteries to narrow. If this happens to the carotid arteries, atherosclerosis raises the risk of stroke.

How atherosclerosis can cause stroke
Eventually, a plaque in the carotid arteries can rupture. Platelets group together at the site and form a blood clot. This blood clot can prevent blood from getting through the artery to the brain, causing a stroke.

It’s also possible for part of a plaque to break off from the arterial wall. The bloodstream will then carry it toward the brain until it reaches a blood vessel that’s too small to allow it to pass through. This is another way that a blocked artery can develop, causing stroke.

Here at West Hills Hospital , we’re firmly committed to doing everything possible to save lives. Our neurologists and neurosurgeons coordinate with our emergency care team and the EMS team to provide rapid responses to stroke patients arriving at our hospital in West Hills. Call 911 if you have a medical emergency, or you can direct your non-emergent questions to a registered nurse at (818) 676-4321.

What are the causes of painful menstrual cramping?

It’s normal for ladies to experience some mildly uncomfortable cramping during their periods. However, you may wish to consult an Ob/Gyn at West Hills Hospital if you experience severe cramps or persistent pain. You can meet one of our friendly Ob/Gyn specialists when you watch the accompanying video. She reassures viewers that painful menstruation isn’t necessarily a sign of infertility, but might possibly be caused by any of the following conditions.

Endometriosis is an abnormality that involves the endometrium, which is the tissue that lines the uterus. When a woman develops endometriosis, her body grows endometrial tissue outside the uterus. Usually, the condition affects the ovaries, fallopian tubes and pelvic tissue, but other areas may also have endometrial tissue growths.

During each monthly cycle, a woman’s endometrium naturally breaks down, bleeds and is expelled. The displaced tissue outside the uterus goes through the same process, except that it’s unable to exit the body. This can trigger thick scar tissue to develop, and cause the following symptoms:

  • Severe pelvic pain during menstruation

  • Pain during sex

  • Excessively heavy periods

  • Pain with urination or bowel movements, especially during menstruation

It’s possible for endometriosis to cause infertility.

Uterine fibroids
These fibroids are growths of tissue that develop in the uterus. They can be tiny or so large that they distort the uterus. Uterine fibroids are not cancerous, and aren’t associated with an increased risk of uterine cancer.

Uterine fibroids are common in women of childbearing age, and many women don’t realize they have them because symptoms are absent. When they do become symptomatic, women may experience the following:

  • Heavy menstrual bleeding

  • Pelvic pain and pressure

  • Excessively long periods

  • Backache or leg pain

It’s uncommon, but possible for a fibroid to spontaneously die and trigger acute, severe pain.

Stenosis of the uterine cervix
This type of cervical stenosis is not to be confused with stenosis of the cervical spine. Instead, it refers to the narrowing of the cervix, which is the lower part of the uterus.

When this condition occurs, it can obstruct the flow of menstrual blood through the cervix, causing pain and possibly a palpable bulge in the pelvic area. Women with cervical stenosis typically experience menstrual cramping, but only have very light bleeding or spotting.

West Hills Hospital provides a complete line of patient-focused women’s services, including maternity, pelvic health, gynecologic urology and gynecologic oncology. Our Ob/Gyn specialists are genuinely compassionate providers who encourage women to be proactive in making informed healthcare decisions. You can request a referral to a physician at our hospital in West Hills by calling (818) 676-4321.

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