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.

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.

Make your home food allergy friendly

Every family has different routines and lifestyles. And so, although everyone with food allergies must avoid their allergen, exactly how this is accomplished can vary from home to home. It can be tricky to make the transition to living with food allergies, but the team at West Hills Hospital is always here to help you. Our physicians and nurses can help your family figure out how to manage allergens in a way that fits your lifestyle, and we’re here with emergency care when accidental exposure happens.

Deciding whether to eliminate unsafe foods
For some families, it makes sense to ban allergens from the home altogether. This can be a good option when the child with food allergies is too young to understand the importance of avoiding unsafe foods. However, it’s possible that making the home an allergen-free zone will make it more difficult for the child to cope with the allergy outside the home.

When making this decision, you may wish to consider these factors:

  • Whether a food ban would place hardship on the rest of the family
  • Whether the child is capable of learning how to manage the allergy
  • The ease with which an allergen(s) could be completely substituted

Purchasing and storing food
Regardless of whether the home is an allergen-free zone or not, it’s always necessary to read food labels before purchasing them. Do this every time, even if you’ve purchased the product before. Manufacturers have been known to change their ingredients from time to time.

If your home isn’t completely allergen-free, your family must follow a strict system of separating safe and unsafe foods. Use color-coded stickers to indicate the safe (or the unsafe) foods. Keep all foods in sealed containers, and store safe foods on separate shelves, away from unsafe foods.

Preventing cross-contamination
Cross-contamination is a serious threat for people with food allergies. To prevent unsafe foods from contaminating safe foods, your family should follow these steps:

  • Scrub hands before and after preparing food
  • Scrub kitchen surfaces before and after preparing food
  • Scrub the table before and after eating meals
  • Prepare safe foods on a counter away from unsafe foods
  • Use separate utensils, cutting boards, knives and measuring cups
Emergency care is available 24/7 at West Hills Hospital for patients who develop serious or life-threatening allergic reactions. Call 911 for all true medical emergencies. General healthcare questions about our patient-focused and compassionate medical services can be directed to a registered nurse in West Hills at (818) 676-4321.

Do you know about these common stress indicators?

If stress were an infectious disease, it would probably be considered at pandemic proportions. Stress isn’t necessarily harmful in small doses, but severe, unrelenting stress can result in serious consequences for your physical, emotional and mental health. If you’re having trouble coping, or if you’re experiencing unusual physical symptoms, the doctors and nurses at West Hills Hospital are here to help.

Behavioral changes
Stress can influence the day-to-day decisions you make. When you’re feeling the pressure, you might:

  • Skip exercising
  • Eat sugary or fatty foods
  • Consume alcohol
  • Smoke cigarettes
  • Use illicit, recreational substances

These behavioral issues might temporarily help you feel better, but in the long run, they’ll make the situation worse.

Mood changes
It’s common for chronic stress to cause anxiety. But some people experience mood changes that seem unrelated. Stress can lead a person to:

  • Become excessively irritable at a minor inconvenience
  • Have a burst of anger
  • Think or act in a hostile or aggressive manner

Cognitive issues
Stress can even affect a person’s ability to work or study productively. It may take longer to complete work, given that stress can cause:

  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Trouble learning new information
  • Forgetfulness
  • Disorganization
  • Confusion
  • Poor motivation
  • Problems making decisions and exercising judgment

Physical symptoms
Many people with chronic stress experience unusual physical symptoms that can’t be attributed to any other cause. Stress often results in gastrointestinal symptoms, like indigestion, upset stomach or diarrhea. Stress-related dietary changes can make these gastrointestinal symptoms worse.

Other physical signs and symptoms can include:

  • General aches and pains
  • Headache
  • Weight gain or loss
  • Chest pain
  • Rapid heartbeat/heart palpitations
  • Dry mouth
  • Muscle tension
  • Neck or back pain
  • Fatigue
  • Insomnia
  • Increased frequency of illnesses

Although stress and anxiety can cause chest pain and heart palpitations, these symptoms may also indicate a life-threatening medical emergency. If there’s even a slight possibility that you may be experiencing a heart attack, please seek emergency care without delay.

No matter what health challenges you’re facing in life, we’re here for you. West Hills Hospital is staffed by providers who genuinely care about improving your quality of life. Call our nurse referral line at (818) 676-4321 for general information about our medical services available in West Hills.

What to do after sexual assault

There are many types of sexual assault, including rape, forcible sodomy and any unwanted or coerced sexual contact, such as groping. After surviving an act of sexual violence, victims often feel shaken and stunned, and unsure of what to do next. Even if you aren’t sure whether you’ll report the crime, you’re urged to seek emergency care at West Hills Hospital. Our compassionate doctors and nurses will give you the care and support you need within a confidential setting.

Getting to a safe place
Your safety is of the utmost importance. After a sexual assault, your top priority is to get away from your attacker. Go to the nearest public place.

You can call 911 for immediate assistance, and to improve the chances that law enforcement will be able to locate your attacker. If you don’t feel comfortable reporting the crime just yet, call a trusted friend or family member, and ask to be taken to the hospital.

Seeking medical care
Let the triage nurse know that you’ve been assaulted. He or she may be able to take you to a private place to wait for a doctor, away from the main ER waiting room.

In addition to receiving treatment for your physical injuries, you can request a sexual assault forensic exam. This exam collects and preserves evidence of the assault.

Victims are strongly encouraged to have this exam as soon as possible after being assaulted, as evidence degrades over time and is affected by activities like washing up. You are not automatically required to report the crime if you have the forensic exam. It’s perfectly alright to take the time to think about your next step.

Recovering from physical and emotional trauma
The physical injuries of sexual violence heal far more quickly than the emotional trauma. Follow the emergency care doctor’s discharge instructions, and make a follow up appointment with your primary care physician.

The process of emotional recovery is different for every survivor. Try to be kind to yourself, and try to confide in a trusted family member or friend. Consider asking your doctor for a referral to a mental health counselor or local support group.

The emergency care team at West Hills Hospital provides a safe setting for sexual assault victims to receive the medical care and support services they need. If you believe your safety is at risk, please call 911 to request immediate police assistance. Otherwise, you can come to our Emergency Room in West Hills, or call a registered nurse any time of the day or night at (818) 676-4321.

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