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.

Essential Care Tips for Patients with a High Risk of Heart Disease

Do you know your risk of heart disease? If not, review your risk factors with your doctor. If you have high blood pressure, high cholesterol, or diabetes, or if you are generally inactive, smoke, or are overweight, your risk of developing heart disease is higher than the general population. That means that you need to take steps to reduce your risk and keep your heart healthy. Keep these tips in mind to protect your heart health.

Control Your Medical Conditions
If you have a chronic medical condition that increases your risk of heart disease, follow your treatment plan closely and see your doctor regularly to monitor your progress. For instance, keeping your blood glucose levels under control when you have diabetes doesn’t erase your increased risk for heart disease, but it can dramatically delay and minimize any heart-related complications you do experience.

Get Regular Check-Ups
As Dr. Sam Kalioundji, an interventional cardiologist at West Hills Hospital & Medical Center discusses in this video, close monitoring by your physician is essential if you have a high risk of heart disease. Seeing your physician often allows him or her to diagnose changes in your heart health in early stages, when treatments can be most effective. Diagnosing heart disease in this way is much better than finding out you have it when you’re receiving emergency care for a heart attack.

Commit to Healthy Living
Having an existing high risk of heart disease means that lifestyle choices that could harm your heart are more dangerous than ever. Commit to doing everything you can to avoid contributing to your risk. Don’t smoke, and if you do, ask your doctor for help quitting. Eat a diet low in sodium, added sugars, and trans fats while consuming more foods high in monounsaturated fats, fiber, and lean protein. Get physical activity most days, as long as your doctor says it is safe.

West Hills Hospital & Medical Center provides nationally recognized cardiac care through our West Hills Regional Heart & Vascular Center and our specialized emergency care in Las Vegas. Get a referral to one of our physicians or learn more about heart care services by calling (818) 676-4321.

Why You Should Head to the ER for Shortness of Breath

As Dr. Natalie Shum of West Hills Hospital & Medical Center explains in this video, shortness of breath is always a cause for concern. Whenever you or someone you love experiences it, it is important to seek medical care as soon as possible to find out the cause and get treatment. Although some causes of shortness of breath are easy to manage, others can be life-threatening, which is why it is so important to seek emergency care. Here are some of the potential causes of shortness of breath that require treatment in the ER.

Heart Attack
Shortness of breath frequently occurs with a heart attack, when oxygenated blood cannot be pumped efficiently by the heart. The shortness of breath associated with a heart attack may come on suddenly, or it may appear slowly, over the course of several days, before a heart attack. If you notice that you are becoming winded when doing simple activities like walking across a room or that you have shortness of breath that gets worse when you lay down and improves when you sit up, then get your symptoms checked out in the ER in case a heart attack is to blame.

Pulmonary Embolism
A pulmonary embolism is a blood clot that forms in the lungs. In addition to chest pain and a cough, it can cause shortness of breath and rapid breathing. Pulmonary embolism is an extremely serious condition that requires immediate emergency care. Left untreated, a pulmonary embolism can be fatal, so getting a fast diagnosis and beginning treatment as soon as possible is essential.

Anaphylaxis is an immune system reaction to an allergen that can cause sudden and severe shortness of breath. With anaphylaxis, urgent treatment is required to stop the reaction and restore normal body functioning, including breathing. Although an EpiPen injection can put a stop to the initial reaction, emergency care is still required, even if the symptoms have subsided.

Whatever your medical emergency, West Hills Hospital & Medical Center is here around the clock to provide the care you need. Don’t let your potentially serious symptoms go unchecked. Call us today at (818) 676-4321 for answers to your questions about emergency care and the other services we offer at our hospital in Las Vegas.

Start This Year as a Volunteer at West Hills Hospital

If you are looking for a fun and fulfilling way to give back to the community, then West Hills Hospital & Medical Center has an opportunity for you. Our volunteer program matches motivated adults and high school students with volunteer positions in our hospital, where they can make an impact on patients, their families, and our team of healthcare providers. Could volunteering at our hospital be right for you? Here is what you need to know.

Who can volunteer?
We welcome both adult volunteers and teen volunteers. Adults can apply throughout the year, while high school students who are interested in our Junior Volunteer program are accepted during March, April, and May. We ask volunteers to commit to working shifts for six consecutive months and that they complete 100 hours of service in that time. Volunteer shifts are available seven days a week during the morning, afternoon, and evening, so there is a time that can fit into almost anyone’s schedule.

What do volunteers do?
We have several different volunteer programs. Volunteers can work in the gift shop, as chaplains, pet volunteers, and in our regional occupational program, which is coordinated through LAUSD. Volunteers may also assist with clerical work throughout our hospital departments. We can help volunteers find an opportunity that puts their skills to the best possible use.

How can I become a volunteer?
We hold information sessions for volunteers on the first Wednesday of every month at 5:30 PM at 7320 Woodlake Avenue, #120, in West Hills. Information sessions last for one hour and reservations are required. Reserve a spot by emailing the Director of Volunteer Services at least 48 hours before the session you wish to attend. Prospective volunteers are then invited to complete an application, and if selected, will undergo a Tuberculosis screening free of charge as well as a background check. Attendance at all training and orientation sessions is required.

To find out more about the volunteer program, contact West Hills Hospital & Medical Center today. Call (818) 676-4321 to learn more about getting involved as a volunteer and becoming an integral part of our hospital community.

Understanding the Effects of Prolonged Labor

When you go to the maternity hospital to have your baby, you’re probably anxious to meet this new addition to your family. If your labor lasts for longer than expected, however, that excitement can turn to stress and concern. Fortunately, even if your labor is prolonged, you don’t have to worry about the danger, because you and your baby will be closely monitored throughout the labor and delivery process. Here is a closer look at prolonged labor, what it could mean for your delivery, and how your maternity doctor will ensure that both you and your baby are protected.

What is prolonged labor?
Although the exact way your maternity hospital defines prolonged labor may differ from another hospital, most experts believe that labor is prolonged if it continues for 18 to 24 hours without birth. If you are having twins, labor is prolonged after 16 hours. You may be at risk for prolonged labor if your baby is very large or is in an abnormal position, the birth canal is too small, or your contractions are weak.

What are the risks?
Prolonged labor is not risky in all situations. In other cases, it can lead to low oxygen levels for your baby, an abnormal heartbeat in your baby, uterine infection, and abnormal substances in your amniotic fluid. For mothers, prolonged labor can be distressing, which can also cause excess stress on the baby.

How is prolonged labor treated?
The doctors and nurses at your maternity hospital will closely monitor your progress through your labor and your baby to ensure he or she is not in distress. If your baby is in distress, your doctor will perform a C-section right away. You may also receive a C-section of the size of your baby is delaying your labor. If your baby is fine and you need to have more contractions, you may receive a medication called Pitocin, which speeds contractions up. As OBGYN Dr. Linda Katz explains here, prolonged labor is never something that should worry a mother, as doctors will monitor it very closely.

The maternity hospital at West Hills Hospital & Medical Center is dedicated to making your labor and delivery a positive experience for your whole family. For a referral to one of our specialists, please call (818) 676-4321.

How to Get Rid of Expired or Unused Medications

Whether you have leftover pain medications from spine surgery or unused antibiotics from your trip to the hospital for emergency care, how you get rid of those medications matters. Safe medication disposal prevents the drugs from being accidentally consumed by children and pets and keeps them out of the hands of people who may abuse them. If you have unused medications, here are some tips for disposing of them properly.

Medicine Take-Back Programs
The safest way to get rid of medicines is to turn them in to a medicine take-back program. To find a program in your area, ask your pharmacist or call your city’s trash and recycling service. You can also look for a take-back program near you online or call a poison control center. These services can take your medications off your hands and ensure they are disposed of in the right way, so you don’t have to worry about them being in your house any longer.

Household Trash
Most people think of tossing unused medicine in their trashcans, but doing so does carry some risk. Pets and children may be able to get into your trash and take the medicines. To reduce the risk of poisoning to your children and pets, mix your unused medicine to something that is not likely to get eaten, such as used coffee grounds, and then put the mixture in a sealed bag or container in your trashcan. If you are throwing away a pill bottle, be sure to scratch all of your personal information off of the label.

Flushing Down the Sink or Toilet
Some medicines are too dangerous to risk putting in the trash, such as pain patches and pills. For these medications, flushing them down the sink or toilet will get them out of our house right away and ensure that no one can take them accidentally or abuse them.

If you are unsure what to do with unused medications, ask your West Hills Hospital & Medical Center doctor for advice. Get answers to all of your questions about our hospital in West Hills and our comprehensive services, including cancer care and our burn center, by calling (818) 676-4321.

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