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.

Red Flags to Warn You of Arthritis

There are over 100 different types of arthritis, and they all have unique symptoms. There are some signs of arthritis, however, that are consistent and seen in nearly all forms of the disease. By paying attention to these signals and getting the care you need from a rheumatologist, orthopedist, or spine hospital, you may be able to slow the damage to your joints and minimize your discomfort. If you experience these red flags that indicate arthritis, consider making an appointment with your doctor for a diagnosis.


Joint stiffness is a common indicator of arthritis. The type and timing of your stiffness can tell your doctor a lot about the kind of arthritis you have. For instance, stiffness associated with rheumatoid arthritis typically persists longer than other forms and appears in joints on both sides of the body, while osteoarthritis stiffness usually decreases soon after movement and only affects one side. Stiffness is usually at its worst with arthritis first thing in the morning or after sitting for an extended period.


Inflammation around joints that are affected by arthritis often causes visible swelling. The swelling can occur in one or more joints at the same time, and it may come and go. However, it is possible to have arthritis in joints that don’t swell, even if you have other affected joints that do become swollen. Swelling is particularly common in arthritic joints of the hands, feet, and ankles.


For some people with arthritis, pain is a secondary symptom to stiffness and swelling, while for others, it is the focal point. Depending on the extent of the joint damage, some people with arthritis feel their bones rubbing against each other. As with stiffness, the location and type of pain you experience can help your doctor diagnose the type of arthritis you have.

At West Hills Hospital, our Total Joint Program, diagnostic imaging, and rehabilitation services give our patients access to comprehensive arthritis care to increase mobility and control discomfort. Call us today at (818) 676-4321 for a referral or more information about our spine hospital in West Hills. You can also learn about our emergency care, burn center, cancer care, and other comprehensive services.

How Do Blood Clots Lead to Stroke?

Blood clots are the cause of the vast majority of strokes. While there are several different factors that can influence your risk of developing a blood clot that could eventually trigger a stroke, long car or plane journeys that people take during the summer can be among the causes. If you or someone you know experiences stroke symptoms, get emergency care right away. Here are the facts you need to know about the link between blood clots and strokes.

Blood Clot Basics

Blood clots are coagulated clumps of blood. They form to stop bleeding when you have an injury, but sometimes, they also occur in the blood vessels where they are not needed. These kinds of clots slow or stop blood flow, starving whatever region of the body that vessel supplies of the oxygen it needs. High cholesterol, smoking, and high blood pressure increase the risk of blood clots. Patients also have a greater chance of getting a blood clot while they are recovering from surgery. As emergency care physician Natalie Shum, MD, of West Hills Hospital explains in this video, sitting for long periods, such as during a car trip or plane ride, also boosts the risk of blood clots.

Blood Clots and Stroke

Ischemic strokes—those caused by blood clots—account for about 87 percent of strokes, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. During an ischemic stroke, a blood clot partially or completely blocks a blood vessel in the brain. This starves the brain of oxygen, causing the stroke. The longer the vessel is blocked, the more brain tissue will die. Getting emergency care to dissolve the clot is crucial to prevent long-term complications.

Blood Clot Prevention

Maintaining a healthy weight, quitting smoking, and eating a healthy diet will reduce many blood clot risk factors. During a long trip, make stops to stretch and walk around or walk up and down the plane aisle.

At West Hills Hospital, our emergency care providers and neurology team can provide high-quality stroke care during the critical onset stage and throughout recovery. Call us at (818) 676-4321 for more information about emergency care in West Hills and the rest of our hospital services.

What Is the Role of EMS in the Emergency Care Process?

EMS, or emergency medical services, are professional emergency care services provided by paramedics and trained police or firefighters. In most cases, EMS refers to care from paramedics and ambulance transportation to a hospital or emergency care center for treatment of a serious injury or illness. Learning more about the role of emergency medical services in the emergency care process can help you better understand how emergency care is administered and the steps you should take in an emergency situation.

Administering Onsite Care

During medical emergencies, it’s essential to receive care as quickly as possible. EMS workers play an important role in serious situations by administering onsite care as soon as they arrive. In emergency situations such as heart attacks, severe allergic reactions, and excessive bleeding, emergency medical services can provide life-saving treatment upon arrival and during the trip to the emergency room.

Moving Patients Safely

After a situation that causes a spine injury or head trauma, moving an individual or bringing them to the hospital by car can put them at risk. Emergency medical services improve patient outcomes with the knowledge and means to safely move a patient who is badly injured to avoid causing further damage before medical treatment can begin.

Alerting Emergency Care Providers

When you drive to the emergency room on your own, staff won’t know about your needs until you walk through the door. Emergency medical services are in constant contact with hospitals and emergency care centers, allowing them to call ahead and alert emergency care providers when immediate care or additional measures such as surgery may be needed. This service helps to ensure that patients begin receiving necessary care much sooner, especially in serious situations.

Do you have questions about emergency care and emergency medical services in West Hills? You can get the answers you need about emergency care for injuries, illnesses, burns, heart attacks, and more when you visit the West Hills Hospital website or call our Consult-A-Nurse line at (818) 676-4321.

Knowing What to Do When Someone Is Suffering from Heat Exhaustion

As the warm, sunny days of summer approach, it’s important to keep in mind the ways in which sun exposure can affect health and wellness. While spending time out in the sun can improve physical and mental health, overexposure to the sun and hot weather can cause heat exhaustion, a potentially dangerous condition that requires prompt first aid and emergency care. Keep reading to find out more about the symptoms of heat exhaustion and how to treat a friend or loved one who may be suffering from this condition.

Symptoms of Heat Exhaustion

Heat exhaustion can manifest in many ways; recognizing the signs of heat exhaustion will help you to take emergency action as soon as possible to reduce the impact of this condition on short- and long-term health. The most common symptoms of heat exhaustion include changes in skin color, excessive sweating, dizziness, fatigue, confusion, headaches, nausea or vomiting, and abdominal pain or cramps. Because heat exhaustion is often linked to dehydration, individuals suffering from heat exhaustion may exhibit symptoms of dehydration as well.

Treatment for Heat Exhaustion

As soon as you notice the symptoms of heat exhaustion, it’s important to take action immediately. Stop any physical activities you may be performing and get out of the sun to reduce body temperature and prevent dehydration. External cooling measures, such as sitting in air conditioning, wetting the skin, or using cold compresses, should be used to lower body temperature. Even if you are able to take these steps, heat exhaustion is still a serious medical condition that needs prompt professional care—you should call 911 or seek transportation to your local emergency room right away.

The West Hills Hospital ER offers round-the-clock emergency care in West Hills for heat exhaustion, chest pain, stroke, and other injuries and illnesses that need immediate care and treatment. We invite you to learn more about our ER and emergency care wait times on our website or by calling our Consult-A-Nurse service at (818) 676-4321.

Exercise and Other Stress-Reducing Measures to Prevent Heart Disease

The development of heart disease and its effect on health are two of the top medical concerns for both men and women across America. Heart disease occurs in many forms and has many causes, including both inherent and lifestyle factors. When determining the best solutions to prevent heart and vascular system disease, heart care specialists often focus on the importance of exercise and other stress-relieving measures on heart health and overall physical wellness.

Exercise as a Heart Health Booster

Numerous studies have been performed on the interaction between exercise and the cardiovascular system. These studies have found that exercise is associated with improved circulation, blood vessel dilation, and increased muscle tone and performance in the heart itself. All of these factors work together to improve general heart health and reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease, as well as mitigate the effects of heart disease in patients who have been diagnosed with one or more cardiovascular condition. Cardiologists often view exercise as both a preventive and a treatment-based solution that can be prescribed just like medication to improve the health and performance of the heart and reduce the risk of heart attack and stroke.

Stress Relief and Heart Health

When you experience stress, your body releases stress hormones that impact the function and long-term health of the heart and cardiovascular system, especially when your stress levels remain high for extended periods of time. Exercise and other stress management solutions, including meditating, spending time with pets, taking up a creative hobby, and scheduling naps and breaks throughout your day, can play a significant role in relieving stress and reducing the release of stress hormones—thereby helping to protect your heart and your cardiovascular system throughout your life.

At West Hills Hospital, we are dedicated to helping you enjoy a healthier, more active lifestyle. Our Center for Fitness and Rehabilitation in West Hills can help you maintain a healthy heart and a healthy body for life. You can learn more about our comprehensive healthcare services, including heart care, spine care, and emergency care, on our website or at (818) 676-4321.

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