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.

Why You Should Take Concussion Injuries Seriously

A concussion is an injury that affects the brain, often resulting from a fall or a traumatic blow to the head. Concussions typically cause a temporary loss of brain function, which may affect skills such as speech, comprehension, and memory. While many concussions will heal on their own, it is impossible to determine the extent of the injury to the brain without a medical professional—after experiencing a concussion, it’s vital to visit your hospital's emergency room for an evaluation.

The Effects Can Be Long-Lasting

Concussions can cause effects that include difficulty remembering information and events, trouble solving problems and thinking clearly, physical symptoms such as headaches and blurred vision, and changes that affect mood and sleep patterns. Most patients recover from a concussion in a matter of days or weeks, but serious concussions can result in effects that last much longer. The best way to facilitate recovery after a severe concussion is to gradually reintroduce mental and physical activities, slowly increasing the amount of work the brain must perform over time to allow healing.

Multiple Concussions Can Have Serious Consequences

Although a single concussion often has a low risk for causing lasting damage, multiple concussions significantly raise your risk for severe or permanent effects. Even a mild second concussion that occurs shortly after the first and before the brain has fully recovered from the primary injury can carry a high chance of permanent disability and even death. Second concussions that occur after the initial injury has resolved can still pose a serious threat to long-term health and wellness, as well as cause reduced cognitive function and slower recovery. After experiencing a concussion, it’s essential to avoid activities that could result in a second concussion until well after the injury has had sufficient time to heal.

Head injuries should always be evaluated by an experienced medical provider. You can check West Hills Hospital’s average ER wait times and find out more about treating head trauma, burns, and other injuries on our website, or call our Consult-A-Nurse hotline at (818) 676-4321 for personalized help.

Dog Leash Injuries to Avoid When You Walk Your Pet

Walking your dog on a leash is a safe and fun way to spend time together and enjoy the many benefits of physical activity. However, although retractable leashes are convenient, they can also pose a safety risk to owners if their dog becomes excited or frightened. Every year, tens of thousands of individuals are treated in emergency care centers across the nation for injuries associated with leashes, including eye injuries, cuts, burns, amputations, and dislocated joints.

Cuts and Amputations

Some of the most common injuries associated with retractable leashes are cuts and amputations. Cuts can occur when the leash is extended or retracted quickly without control, causing the edges to slice into the skin. In extreme cases, the leash can become wrapped around fingers or other extremities, leading to deep cuts and even amputations that require immediate emergency care.

Scrapes and Burns

Uncontrolled extension and retraction of a retractable leash can also cause scrapes and burns on the skin. These types of injuries typically occur when the harsh material of the leash is drawn past the skin rapidly during walks or when retracting the leash before putting it away.

Joint and Tissue Injuries

Walking your dog on any type of leash has the potential to cause orthopedic injuries. If your dog becomes excited or frightened, he may tug harshly on the leash, putting excessive pressure on your joints. The most common orthopedic injuries associated with leash use are dislocated joints; it is also common for dog owners to sustain strains and sprains that affect the muscles and soft tissues around the joints as well.

If you sustain a serious injury while walking your pet, it’s important to seek medical help promptly. At West Hills Hospital, our ER and burn center serving West hills have the patient capacity and up-to-date technology to deliver high-quality emergency care, burn care, and heart attack care. You can find out more about our hospital and our healthcare services on our website or by calling (818) 676-4321.

When Should Someone Go to the ER for an Asthma Attack?

Asthma attacks occur when the airways become inflamed or swollen, making it difficult to breathe comfortably. While asthma attacks range in severity, serious asthma episodes may require emergency care at a hospital to resolve. Asthma flare-ups can occur anywhere and at any time; knowing the signs that an individual needs medical care to handle an asthma attack will help you act quickly in a serious situation.

Severe Symptoms

Asthma attacks are associated with several symptoms, depending on the cause for the attack, the age of the individual, and their general health. The most common symptoms of an asthma attack include wheezing, persistent coughing, rapid breathing, a sensation of pressure or tightness in the chest, and feelings of anxiety or panic. Individuals suffering an asthma attack may also appear pale, have difficulty talking, and develop a blue tinge to their lips or fingernails. In cases where asthma symptoms appear severe and significantly hinder breathing, it’s essential to seek emergency care quickly. Additionally, when asthma medication is not acting as it should or does not significantly reduce symptoms, visiting the ER allows patients to receive the fast and effective help they need.

Prolonged Symptoms

Prolonged asthma symptoms that don’t respond to normal treatment at home should always prompt a visit to the ER. It’s important to take action if breathing does not get easier over time, even if symptoms such as wheezing seem to disappear. Children and older individuals especially should not continue home treatment if asthma attack symptoms do not abate quickly or return soon after treatment, even with the use of a rescue inhaler or other medication. Additionally, if medication is not available to treat the asthma attack right away, visiting the ER will provide the individual with the right treatment to address symptoms immediately.

At West Hills Hospital, our goal is to provide you with the information you need to know when it’s time to seek emergency care in West Hills. You can find more helpful health articles on our website, or receive personalized health assistance by phone at (818) 676-4321.

Exploring Some of the Early Signs of a Heart Attack

Your heart can affect your overall health in a number of unexpected ways. In fact, your heart may send out warning signals well before a heart attack takes place, but these signs are often ignored by patients because patients do not immediately associate them with an impending heart attack. Keep reading to learn some of the signs that might let you know it’s time to see your doctor for a cardiac checkup to avoid a heart attack in the near future.

Extreme fatigue

Unusual fatigue can be a warning sign for a number of conditions, so you should discuss this symptom with your doctor even if you do not have a history of heart problems. At first, you may have difficulty waking up in the morning and carrying out normal activities, but this can worsen to the point of overwhelming exhaustion where you feel too tired to do anything.

Digestive discomfort

A heart attack might be proceeded by frequent indigestion, which can evolve to severe heartburn with nausea and vomiting.

Unexplained anxiety

Your mind might subconsciously sense a heart attack well before it occurs with a sense of fleeting anxiety. As a blockage continues to develop, you might feel like you are having a panic attack with severe anxiety and shortness of breath that persists, regardless of your current level of activity.

Flu-like symptoms

Many women will have flu-like symptoms such as fatigue and body aches prior to having a heart attack. These symptoms might persist for several days or even weeks before more distinct symptoms like chest pain and upper body discomfort set in.

If you think that you are having a heart attack, call 911 right away. For a physician referral or information about the cardiovascular services available at West Hills Hospital, call our 24-hour Consult-A-Nurse healthcare referral line at (818) 676-4321.

How Do Doctors Identify STEMI Heart Attacks?

Heart attacks can differ in their severity, depending on the cause and size of the blockage limiting blood flow. STEMI heart attacks are the most severe type of heart attack, and they are characterized by an ST-elevation during myocardial infarction. This reading, which can be seen on an electrocardiogram, will indicate a complete blockage of the coronary artery. With this type of blockage, more widespread damage is likely to occur in the heart muscle. Therefore, it is very important to identify this type of heart attack quickly and have the right type of care available to restore blood flow. West Hills Hospital’s Emergency Room is a STEMI receiving center, meaning that we will provide the most efficient care possible for STEMI heart attacks. Below, you can get a closer look at the ways that these heart attacks are diagnosed and treated in our hospital.

Severe heart attack symptoms

Because STEMI heart attacks are more severe, they may have more pronounced symptoms. Chest pain and weakness in particular may be amplified with this type of heart attack. If any type of heart attack symptoms are present, you will want to call 911 so that you receive care in the timeliest fashion.

EMS diagnosis

With a STEMI heart attack, the diagnosis may come before you even arrive at the ER. Ambulances are equipped with electrocardiogram equipment for a rapid diagnosis that will indicate the proper steps in patient care, including transportation to a STEMI receiving center.

Preferred STEMI treatments

While clot-busting medications are highly effective for non-STEMI heart attacks, they are not the preferred method of treatment when a complete blockage is present. A STEMI heart attack should be treated with percutaneous coronary intervention, which involves the insertion of a catheter into the coronary artery to reopen the blood vessel quickly with a lower risk of bleeding than clot-busting medication.

To learn more about the enhanced ER capabilities of West Hills Hospital, give us a call at (818) 676-4321. Our nurses are available to answer your call 24/7 and offer physician referrals, hospital information, current ER wait times, and healthcare tips.

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