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.
818.676.4000

Staying Safe Every Way You Travel This Holiday Season

Countless Americans plan to hit the roads, board a train, or take off in a plane to visit with loved ones this holiday season. If you’re one of them, taking a few simple precautions can help you stay healthy while you travel. In the event that you do require emergency care in the West Hills area, you can count on West Hills Hospital to provide high-quality, 24/7 emergency care.

Consider Talking to Your Doctor
Certain patients may wish to consult their family physicians before embarking on a trip, especially when traveling by air. Individuals with heart disease and women who are pregnant, for example, would be well advised to seek medical clearance before flying. New parents may also wish to speak with their doctors about bringing infants on a plane, particularly if a child has a respiratory condition.

Prevent the Spread of Germs
Infectious diseases are always a concern regardless of the method of travel. Wash your hands frequently and thoroughly, and make sure your children follow suit. If you’ll be traveling via train or plane, bring some hand sanitizer and anti-bacterial wipes. As soon as you get settled in, wipe the armrests, tray, and similar items around your seat. If you have a compromised immune system, it’s advisable to only consume bottled water. The water filtration systems in airplanes have been improved, but germs are still a concern. Similarly, use bottled water to brush your teeth on a plane and, after washing your hands following your use of the facilities, rub on some hand sanitizer.

Reduce the Risk of Blood Clots
Blood clots are a risk when a person is immobile for prolonged periods of time. Families traveling by car should plan frequent rest stops to walk around and stretch. Switching drivers if possible is also a good choice. While on a plane or train, get up frequently to walk in the aisles. While seated, squeezing your calf muscles can help get your blood moving. If you have poor circulation or a history of blood clots, consider speaking with your doctor about wearing compression stockings or socks during your travels.

Exceptional emergency care is just part of what we do here at West Hills Hospital. For years, families throughout the West Hills area have turned to us for compassionate cancer care, maternity health services, and orthopedics. You can call our Consult-A-Nurse line at (818) 676-4321.


How Stress Can Make You Sick

It’s perfectly normal to experience stress now and then, such as when a major medical problem arises or when one’s schedule gets hectic. But stress isn’t always benign. Chronic stress, often referred to as toxic stress, can exact a heavy toll on one’s overall health. If you have concerns about your health and you live in the West Hills area, consider speaking with one of the dedicated providers at West Hills Hospital.

Understanding the Stress Response
When a person encounters a stressor or perceived threat, the body rapidly goes through a series of physiological responses and hormonal changes that are intended to facilitate survival by enabling the person to fight or flee. This is known as the “fight or flight” response or stress response. The stress response is beneficial when people do face dire situations. Unfortunately, individuals experience the stress response to everyday stressors such as traffic jams, family tension, and workplace problems. The repeated activation of the stress response can contribute to ill health effects.

Assessing the Problems of Long-Term Stress
The activation of the stress response triggers the release of nerve chemicals and hormones that increase respiration, heart rate, and pulse. The brain begins to use more oxygen and the muscles tense up. These physiological changes are problematic on a long-term basis because certain bodily functions are suppressed, including the immune, digestive, reproductive, and excretory systems. The elevation of the hormones cortisol, norepinephrine, and adrenaline also cause harmful changes. Adrenaline increases blood pressure. Cortisol encourages undesirable blood vessel changes increases appetite, and triggers the body to store more belly fat.

Identifying Specific Health Consequences
All of these alterations in proper bodily function can have a range of health consequences. Not everyone will experience the same consequences to the same degree, but in general, chronic stress is thought to contribute to overweight and obesity, frequent infections, heart disease, stroke, anxiety disorders, and clinical depression.

West Hills Hospital is your family’s partner in wellness this holiday season. Our fully equipped hospital in West Hills is a leading provider of emergency care, cancer care, maternity health services, and many other specialties. For general information about our lines of service, you can call our Consult-A-Nurse line at (818) 676-4321 or browse our website.


What to Do If Winter Brings on Sinusitis

The human skull contains hollow cavities known as sinuses. Sometimes, the tissue lining these hollow spaces can become inflamed. This condition is called sinusitis and it is often associated with infections. Occasionally developing sinusitis is not generally a cause for concern. However, if you experience severe symptoms, prolonged symptoms, or frequently recurring symptoms, you might consider speaking with a physician at West Hills Hospital. Watch this video, which features one of our sinus surgeons, to learn the importance of treating chronic sinusitis to prevent serious complications.

Supportive Care
Many cases of sinusitis are acute, rather than chronic, and most of these patients can successfully recover with supportive care. If you have mild, acute sinusitis, you can help your body fight the infection by getting plenty of rest and staying well hydrated. You can improve your comfort by using a sterile saline nasal rinse, applying warm compresses, and taking over-the-counter decongestants if need be.

Medications
If your symptoms are severe and they are caused by a bacterial infection, your doctor might consider prescribing an antibiotic. If you do take an antibiotic, it’s crucial to finish taking the entire course of the prescribed medicine, even if you start feeling better sooner than this. Doctors may sometimes prescribe powerful anti-inflammatory drugs on a short-term basis or an antifungal medication if the infection is fungal in nature.

Immunotherapy
For some people, chronic sinusitis is triggered by allergens. You might be referred to an allergy specialist to learn how to reduce your exposure to allergens and discuss immunotherapy. Immunotherapy, which consists of injections, can help reduce the body’s sensitivity to allergens.

Surgery
Sinusitis surgery might be recommended if your symptoms are severe, recurrent, or might place you at risk of complications. If conservative treatments haven’t worked, a sinus surgeon may perform endoscopic surgery to clear away nasal polyps or other obstructive tissues, and perhaps to enlarge a sinus opening to support better drainage.

Ear, nose, and throat (ENT) surgery is one of our specialties here at West Hills Hospital . Our hospital brings together talented surgeons and state-of-the-art operating platforms to provide exceptional care for our patients in West Hills. If you would like a referral to a specialist at our hospital, you can call a registered nurse at (818) 676-4321.

Raising Pancreatic Cancer Awareness

Pancreatic cancer accounts for about 3% of all cancers in the U.S., according to the American Cancer Society, and approximately 7% of all cancer deaths. It is considered to be a particularly dangerous form of cancer because it is difficult to diagnose early and can spread quickly. At West Hills Hospital & Medical Center, we provide comprehensive cancer care to patients facing a diagnosis of pancreatic cancer, with cutting-edge treatments provided by a compassionate team of experts. Raising awareness about the disease may help to reduce its devastating impacts. Here are the facts you need to know.

Pancreatic cancer symptoms are vague.
The most common form of pancreatic cancer, which starts in the exocrine cells, does not usually cause symptoms until the disease progresses. When symptoms do occur, they are generally vague and may not be initially recognized as cancer. They include weight loss, back and abdomen pain, fatigue, and yellowing of the skin and eyes. Often, patients find out they have pancreatic cancer late in the disease process when it has spread to another organ that triggers more obvious symptoms.

There are several risk factors.
Some risk factors for pancreatic cancer can be controlled, such as smoking and being overweight. Other risk factors can’t be changed, such as being over 65, being male, being African-American, having a family history of the disease or a personal history of diabetes, chronic pancreatitis, and cirrhosis. Having risk factors for pancreatic cancer doesn’t mean that you will get the disease, but it can help you be more alert to potential symptoms so you can be proactive about getting examined if you experience them.

Multiple treatments are available.
Your cancer team will create a care plan for you based on a number of different factors, including the stage of your cancer and whether it has spread to other organs. Chemotherapy, targeted therapy, surgery, and radiation may all be used, either alone or in combination.

Sophisticated cancer care at West Hills Hospital & Medical Center means that patients with all forms of cancer have access to state-of-the-art treatment from a multidisciplinary team of providers. Call our hospital in West Hills today at (818) 676-4321 for more information.


Is It Possible to Prevent Alzheimer's?

Alzheimer’s disease is a devastating illness that robs people of their memories—and, eventually, their lives. Although there is no single way to prevent Alzheimer’s, there are strategies that you can use to reduce your chances of it happening to you. Protect your brain health with this advice.

Prevent Head Trauma
Head traumas, especially those that cause loss of consciousness, increase the risk of Alzheimer’s disease in the future. Protect yourself and your family from head trauma by making it a rule that seatbelts are worn in the car for every ride and that helmets are worn for sports, including bike riding. You can further reduce the risk of head injuries by fall-proofing your home. Secure area rugs with double-sided tape, don’t let electrical cords cross walking paths, and keep your floor tidy.

Exercise Your Brain
Research indicates that doing activities that stimulate your brain can protect you from Alzheimer’s disease. Give your brain a workout with intellectual activities like puzzles and word games, and keep your brain active by fostering social connections with friends and family. These activities fire your brain into action, which may help to maintain strong connections between nerve cells that could protect you from Alzheimer’s and other forms of memory loss. These kinds of brain exercises are especially important for seniors to continue, so if you have an elderly loved one who is isolated, make an effort to help him or her engage.

Protect Your Heart Health
Good heart health means good brain health. Eat a diet that is low in saturated fat and excess sugar, get physical activity most days, and try to keep your weight under control. If you have high blood pressure or high cholesterol, talk to your doctor about steps you can take to manage it. A healthy heart will reduce your chances of developing Alzheimer’s disease.

At West Hills Hospital & Medical Center, we offer comprehensive care for a range of conditions, from emergency care and cancer care in West Hills to our neurology department, where Alzheimer’s patients can get the diagnostics and treatments they need. Get more information about our hospital services by calling (818) 676-4321.


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