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.

Stay afloat with these swim safety tips

Summer isn’t summer without swimming, but days at the beach or pool don’t come without risks. Each day in the US, approximately 10 people die in accidental drownings, and for kids between ages one and four, it is the leading cause of unintentional injury death. Of people who seek emergency care after a near drowning, over 50% require a lengthy hospital stay or long-term care. Fortunately, there are many things you can do to ensure that summer fun doesn’t end in tragedy for you or your loved ones. Keep these safety tips in mind on your next swimming outing.

Learn to swim
Learning to swim by taking swim classes gives kids and adults the tools they need to practice safety in the water and to react swiftly in the case of an emergency. Even babies can get in the water and practice the basics of swimming.

If you haven’t learned to swim, keep in mind that it’s never too late. There are plenty of swimming classes available for people of all ages, so take the important step of learning basics swimming skills.

Supervise children when they swim
Children need to be constantly supervised while they swim. Do not rely on lifeguards or flotation devices to keep your children safe in the water. Children can drown in just a few seconds, so watch them carefully.

If you are with a group, make sure one adult is always specifically in charge of watching the children. In a group, it is easy for parents to all think someone else is supervising, when in reality, no one is paying close attention.

Avoid swimming alone
Swimming calls for the buddy system. Even if you are an experienced swimmer, it is important to have someone who can help if an emergency occurs. Whenever possible, choose to swim in an area with lifeguards.

Whatever your summertime emergency, West Hills Hospital & Medical Center is here to provide the emergency care you need. Our hospital in West Hills is available 24 hours per day for all of your family’s emergency needs. To learn more about our services, please call (818) 676-4321.

Acquaint yourself with these common knee injuries

Your knee is a weight-bearing joint, which makes it particularly susceptible to injuries. Each year, millions of patients in the U.S. seek medical care because of knee pain. If you become one of them, you can rest assured that you’ll receive nothing short of superior care and attentive service at West Hills Hospital. Our Total Joint Team combines advanced expertise with state-of-the-art medical technology to give our patients the best possible outcomes.

Ligament injuries
Ligaments are the rope-like bands of tissue that connect bones to each other. Your knee has four main ligaments—two collateral ligaments, an anterior cruciate ligament and a posterior cruciate ligament. Any of these can become overly stretched, partially torn or completely torn.

The signs of a ligament injury include:

  • Sudden, severe pain
  • Loud popping sound at the time the injury occurs
  • Knee swelling
  • Inability to place weight on the leg
  • Sensation of knee instability

Knee dislocation
Sometimes, sudden trauma can cause the bones of the knee to slip out of place. They may partially or completely dislocate due to the force of a fall, car accident or sports-related collision. Some of the possible indicators of a dislocated knee include the following:

  • Severe pain
  • Severe bruising
  • Knee swelling
  • Visible deformity
  • Popping sound at the time the injury occurs
  • Limited movement

Tendon tears
Tendons are similar to ligaments, except that tendons attach muscles to bones instead of bones to bones. It’s possible to injure the patellar or quadriceps tendon of the knee, either partially or completely.

The cause of this knee injury can be the trauma from a fall, or the movement of jumping up or landing from a jump. You’re more likely to suffer a tendon tear if your tendons are already weakened from tendinitis, corticosteroid injections or chronic diseases like diabetes. Some of the signs of a tendon tear are:

  • Tearing sensation when the injury occurs
  • Pain
  • Swelling
  • Inability to straighten the knee
  • Indentation at the base of the kneecap
  • Tenderness
  • Cramping
  • Inability to walk or difficulty walking
  • Abnormal upward migration of the kneecap

Here at West Hills Hospital, we believe in going the extra mile for our patients. Our Total Joint Package in West Hills connects orthopedic patients to board-certified, fellowship-trained surgeons, pre-operative classes and certified rehabilitation specialists. Find out what our comprehensive, uncompromising healthcare can do for you by requesting a referral at (818) 676-4321.

Busting common sun safety and skin cancer myths

Skin cancer is extremely common— one in five people in the US will get it in their lifetimes—but fortunately, it is also often curable when patients receive cancer care in the disease’s earliest stages. Many people fail to protect themselves adequately from skin cancer because of myths and misconceptions about the disease and sun safety. Don’t fail to take easy steps to prevent skin cancer because of these myths. Here is a look at some of the most common misconceptions people have and the truth you need to know.

Myth: I won’t get skin cancer because I don’t spend much time outside.
Even short periods of sun exposure add up over time, increasing the risk of skin cancer. If you have fair skin, this risk is even worse. You don’t have to spend the day at the beach to increase your cancer risk. You are being exposed to UV rays when you’re doing mundane activities, like:

  • Driving with the sunroof open
  • Walking in outdoor shopping centers
  • Sitting at an outdoor café

This kind of sun exposure is linked to squamous cell skin cancer, which causes up to 20% of deaths from skin cancer.

Myth: I don’t need sunscreen if it is cloudy outside.
If you are going to be outside for an extended period of time, you need sunscreen. You can still get a sunburn on cloudy days, and you can still be exposed to dangerous UV rays. Cloud cover only marginally decreases the amount of UV rays that make it to the ground.

Clouds can also reflect some of the rays, which increases their intensity. Sunscreen is a must to reduce your cancer risk, no matter what the sky looks like.

Myth: High SPF sunscreens don’t really provide more protection.
There is a value to using a sunscreen with a high SPF for several reasons:

  • High SPFs compensate for under-applying sunscreen
  • High SPF sunscreens are better at protecting your in extreme conditions
  • High SPF sunscreens reduce chronic UV damage

Any kind of sunscreen should be reapplied every two hours or after swimming.

West Hills Hospital & Medical Center provides comprehensive cancer care in West Hills. We have a multidisciplinary team of specialists who combine compassion with cutting-edge care. For more information about our cancer care program, please call (818) 676-4321.

Getting to know the patient experience of visiting a cardiologist

For many patients, the first experience of meeting a cardiologist occurs in the emergency care department. Cardiologists do, however, prefer to meet with patients before a major cardiovascular event like a heart attack occurs. This featured video explains what one cardiologist at West Hills Hospital wishes patients knew about their heart health. By paying attention to the subtle signs that something is wrong, you can get the treatment you need before a life-threatening event occurs.

Preparing for a cardiology appointment
Assuming your heart condition doesn’t require emergency care, you should have a little time to prepare for your cardiology appointment. Call the hospital ahead of time to find out what you should bring and whether you need to fast for any medical tests. Your cardiologist needs you to bring:

  • Your medications, vitamins and supplements, or a list of them
  • Your family medical history
  • Your own medical history, including prior surgeries
  • A list of your healthcare providers
  • Your lab results and imaging scans, if applicable
  • A list of your questions

Expect your cardiologist to ask about the symptoms you’ve experienced, which might include heart palpitations, dizziness or fatigue.

Undergoing heart health tests
An electrocardiogram, or EKG, is one of the most commonly performed diagnostic tests for heart health. It’s noninvasive and painless. An EKG records the electrical activity of the heart.

Another common cardiac test is an echocardiogram, which is an ultrasound of the heart.

A stress test monitors your heart while you exercise. If you’re unable to exercise safely, a medication can be used to mimic the effects of exercise on the heart.

Improving heart health
Your cardiologist truly wants you to enjoy good quality of life despite your heart condition. He or she will work one-on-one with you to help you improve your heart health. You may also work with other providers, such as a registered dietician, psychologist or physical therapist.

Depending on the cardiologist’s findings, you might be asked to:

  • Take medications
  • Quit smoking
  • Lose weight
  • Follow a safe exercise program
  • Eat balanced, nutritious meals
  • Increase your dietary fiber
  • Limit or avoid alcohol

Talk to your doctor if you’re having trouble adapting to a heart-healthy lifestyle. He or she can brainstorm solutions that fit your needs.

West Hills Regional Heart and Vascular Institute is committed to saving the lives of our patients with our 24/7, nationally accredited cardiac services. Our hospital attracts the top cardiovascular experts in their field because of our reputation for putting our patients first. Call 911 immediately for emergency care, or call West Hills Hospital at (818) 676-4321 for general questions of a non-emergency nature.

Should you be worried about painful menstrual cramps?

Many women experience cramps during their periods, but how do you know when your cramps are a sign of something serious? If you’re suffering from painful cramping during menstruation, consult with your women’s services specialist to find out what could be causing your cramps and if you need treatment. Here is what you need to know.

What kinds of cramps are normal?
There is no strict definition of normal when it comes to any part of menstruation. Cramps are a common complaint during periods and experiencing them is not a necessarily a sign of a problem.

However, these symptoms may indicate that you should see your physician:

  • Your cramps seem to be worse than those of your family and friends
  • Your cramps interfere with your ability to work or do your normal activities
  • You don’t get relief from your cramping with home remedies or over-the-counter medications
  • You have menstrual-like cramps at other times of the month
  • You have fever or vaginal discharge with cramps

Even if your symptoms don’t fall into those categories, you should see your gynecologist if you are concerned about your cramps, as suggested in the video.

What are some common causes of severe cramps?
Many different things can cause severe cramping during your period, including:

  • Uterine fibroids
  • Endometriosis
  • Pelvic inflammatory disease
  • Displaced IUD
  • Overproduction of the hormone prostaglandin

Your physician will perform an exam and other tests to determine if any of these conditions is causing your cramping, so that he or she can start a treatment plan for you.

What treatments are available?
Treatment for severe cramping depends on the cause. Some potential remedies your physician may use are:

  • Medications, such as birth control pills
  • Pain medications
  • Surgery

Because some of the conditions that cause cramping can also cause infertility, getting a diagnosis and starting treatment is important.

Let a women’s services physician in West Hills at West Hills Hospital & Medical Center help you find a solution for painful period cramps. You can get a referral to one of our providers by calling (818) 676-4321.

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