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.

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.

How do you know when you've begun menopause?

Menopause is a journey that is experienced a little differently for every woman. Since the signs of menopause vary from person to person, it might be tricky for you to tell when you’ve entered menopause. Your doctor at West Hills Hospital can give you the personalized, compassionate care you need to thrive during all of life’s stages.

Menopause onset
The start of menopause could happen relatively early in life. Premature or early menopause is the term used when it occurs before age 40. The following medical treatments can cause premature menopause:

  • Chemotherapy or radiation therapy directed at the pelvis
  • Hysterectomy
  • Surgical removal of the ovaries

For other women, early menopause might be attributed to genetic factors or autoimmune diseases.

After age 40, menopause could happen at any time, but usually happens at age 51, according to the Office on Women’s Health.

To best protect your health, your doctor needs to know about any unusual symptoms you’re experiencing. It’s possible for the hallmark characteristics of menopause to be caused by serious medical conditions that need treatment. Keep track of your symptoms in a journal and bring it to your check-ups.

Menstrual changes
The time leading up to menopause is called perimenopause. You can hear more about it when you watch this video, which features an interview with an Ob/Gyn at West Hills Hospital.

During perimenopause, it’s normal to experience irregular periods. Your doctor will confirm that you have gone through menopause when you’ve had 12 consecutive months with no menstrual bleeding at all.

Hot flashes
Symptoms like hot flashes are more common during perimenopause than menopause. A hot flash is the feeling of warmth that spreads over your upper body or entire body. It can cause excessive sweating followed by chills, and areas of reddened skin.

Vaginal issues
The lower estrogen levels associated with menopause can cause the vaginal walls to be thinner and drier. This can cause pain or discomfort during sex. Some women become more susceptible to vaginal infections.

For every stage of life, West Hills Hospital is here for you. Your doctor in West Hills will work closely with you to manage your health during menopause, and can refer you to our excellent Women’s Diagnostic Center for advanced screening tests as needed. Call a registered nurse at (818) 676-4321.

What to do when your water breaks

If this is your first pregnancy, you might assume that it’s easy to tell when you’re going into labor. But reality can be quite different, as you’ll learn when you watch this featured video. For starters, most women don’t experience a gushing torrent of fluid that indicates the amniotic sac has broken. For some women, it may only be a little trickle of fluid. Or, the amniotic sac might not break until the new mom is already in labor at the hospital. Labor and delivery can be confusing, but there’s no need to worry. When you work with the maternity care specialists at West Hills Hospital, you’ll get all the information and support you need as your big day approaches.

Prepare for rupturing membranes

It’s always possible that you’ll be in the small percentage of women who do experience a dramatic membrane rupture. As you get closer to your due date, you can prepare by keeping a stash of super-absorbent feminine hygiene pads close at hand. Because babies follow their own schedule, you may also wish to use a plastic mattress cover.

Call your maternity doctor

Call the maternity hospital right away if you notice leaking amniotic fluid. Make a note of the color of the fluid, which should usually be clear.

If the fluid looks brown or green, it’s possible that your baby had a bowel movement. Your doctor will want to monitor the situation carefully, as aspiration is possible.

You should also call your doctor promptly if you notice any of the following:

  • Reduced fetal movement
  • Vaginal bleeding
  • Abdominal cramps
  • Change in vaginal discharge color
  • Pain or pressure in the rectal or pelvic area

Time your contractions

Expect your maternity doctor to ask you about the timing of your contractions. It’s best to have your partner handle the stopwatch, as you’ll be busy focusing on your breathing.

Your partner should time the contractions beginning at the start of one contraction up to the start of the next contraction. This is the frequency of the contractions. Your partner should also time the duration of each contraction.

Writing down this information is the easiest way to keep track of it. Your maternity doctor will ask you for this information when determining whether it’s time for you to come in to the hospital.

West Hills Hospital is the maternity hospital of choice for expecting parents in the West Hills community. You’ll find family-centered, compassionate maternity care at New Beginnings Maternal and Newborn Care, including extensive postpartum support services. You can reach a registered nurse by calling (818) 676-4321.

How to find relief from migraines

Migraines can be debilitating. The symptoms may keep you out of work and away from your family, but you can regain control of your life with help from the neurologists at West Hills Hospital. Here, you’ll find the cutting-edge treatments and personalized medical guidance you deserve.

Self-care during a migraine

When you first experience migraine symptoms, try to reschedule your planned activities. Many patients find it helpful to sleep or relax in a quiet room. Turn off the lights and lower the window blinds.

Place a cold pack or heating pad on your head or neck. Try both heat and cold therapy to see what works best for you.

Preventive medicines for migraine patients

Your doctor can prescribe medications that are intended to reduce the frequency of your migraines. These preventive medicines are generally appropriate for patients who suffer several migraine attacks each month. Anti-seizure drugs, antidepressants and cardiovascular medicines are some examples.

Preventive strategies for migraine patients

Your doctor can help you identify migraine triggers and learn how to avoid them. Some common migraine triggers include:

  • Skipping meals
  • Consuming alcohol or caffeine
  • Consuming chocolate or aged cheese
  • Changing sleep patterns

Pain relief medications for migraine patients

Your doctor may prescribe acute care medications that you will take at the first sign of a migraine attack. Triptans, ergots, glucocorticoids and anti-nausea drugs are some examples of prescription pain relievers for migraine patients. Some patients find sufficient relief with over-the-counter migraine medications.

Injections for migraine patients

When migraine trigger avoidance and medications aren’t enough to control migraines, a neurologist may recommend injections of OnabotulinumtoxinA. This medication inhibits nerve activity to relax the muscles.

Your doctor may inject this substance into the muscles of your neck and forehead every 12 weeks to reduce the frequency of your migraine attacks.

West Hills Hospital brings together leading neurologists and neurosurgeons who are committed to giving each patient superior, compassionate care. At our hospital in West Hills, we’ll customize a migraine treatment plan that’s right for your unique needs and preferences. Call our hospital today at (818) 676-4321 to request a physician referral.

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