• Why Is Prostate Cancer More Prevalent in African-American Men?

    The risk of prostate cancer among African-American men is about 35 percent higher than the risk for Caucasian men. Additionally, African-American men who are diagnosed with prostate cancer have a two-fold higher mortality rate. Researchers are still trying to identify the reason behind these alarming statistics. It is thought that perhaps the difference might lie in a man’s diet, stress level, or testosterone level.

    You can hear more about prostate cancer among African-American men by watching this video. You’ll hear the story of a prostate cancer survivor, Winston, who lost his brother and father to the disease and then was diagnosed himself. Winston works as a tireless advocate to raise awareness about the importance of prostate cancer screenings.

    The caring physicians at West Hills Hospital provide a comprehensive range of preventive healthcare services at our community hospital, including prostate cancer screenings. Men throughout the West Hills area can reach the Consult-A-Nurse referral line for our hospital at (818) 676-4000.

  • What You Need to Know About Diagnostic Imaging

    Chest x-ray

    Imaging scans are an important component of the diagnostic process. Diagnostic imaging allows your physician to view your body’s structures and evaluate its function. Your community hospital may offer a variety of imaging tests, including X-rays, computed tomography (CT) scans, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scans, ultrasound, and nuclear medicine scans. The exact test your doctor might recommend depends upon the symptoms you report and the body part your doctor wishes to examine.

    If you’re anticipating an appointment at your community hospital for an imaging exam, you should be aware that these tests are painless. Some patients may experience some mild discomfort if they need to remain still for long periods of time to allow the equipment to capture the images. Imaging scans are also widely accepted to be generally safe. Some types of imaging scans, such as X-rays, direct radiation at the body. However, radiologists strive to use the smallest amount of radiation possible to minimize risks.

    West Hills residents can learn more about diagnostic imaging by exploring the healthcare topics on the website of West Hills Hospital. You can connect with our community hospital by calling (818) 676-4000.

  • A Closer Look at Third Degree Burns

    Doctor with medical card

    Third-degree burns are a serious medical condition that involves the destruction of the epidermis, or the outer layer of the skin, and the dermis, which is the deeper layer underneath the epidermis. Third-degree burns can be caused by exposure to a scalding liquid, a chemical, flames, or an electrical source. Since third-degree burns result in the destruction of the nerve endings in the area, patients do not typically feel pain. They may experience symptoms such as swelling, and dry, leathery skin. The skin may turn yellow, white, brown, or black.

    Depending on the severity and extent of the burn, you may require specialized treatment within a burn center. The specialist at the burn center will perform debridement, or the removal of dead tissue. You may receive intravenous fluids and antibiotics, and you may be prescribed pain medications. Extensive burns or slow healing wounds may require a skin grafting procedure.

    The Grossman Burn Center at West Hills Hospital offers specialized care for burn victims , including acute care, reconstruction, and psychological counseling. West Hills residents who wish to speak with a registered nurse may call our Consult-A-Nurse referral line at (818) 676-4000.

  • What Is GERD?

    Female doctor with clipboard talks to an adult

    Usually, the muscle at the end of the esophagus closes to prevent the contents of the stomach from flowing backward up the esophagus. When this fails to occur and the stomach contents do reflux, it is known as gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD). If you experience persistent symptoms of GERD, it may be wise to schedule an appointment at your community hospital . The physician at your community hospital can recommend diagnostic tests and develop a treatment plan.


    The symptoms of GERD frequently arise after consuming a large meal or lying down after eating. You may experience these symptoms for only a few minutes or they may last for a few hours. They typically include heartburn, r egurgitation of the stomach contents , and a sour taste in the mouth. Persistent or chronic indigestion is another possible symptom and it may be indicated by upper abdominal pain after eating, nausea, vomiting, bloating, and burping.

    Risk Factors

    Certain issues may increase your risk of developing GERD. These can include smoking, being obese, exercising immediately after a meal, and lying down after a meal. Some medical conditions may also increase your risk, including diabetes, hiatal hernia, scleroderma, and pregnancy. The use of certain medications is another risk factor. These medications include bisphosphonates, anticholinergics, calcium channel blockers, nitrates, sildenafil, and asthma medications. Many people find that certain foods or beverages trigger GERD symptoms, such as alcohol, caffeinated products, fried foods, and spicy foods.


    If the tests you undergo at your community hospital reveal that you do have GERD, your doctor may recommend a multifaceted approach to treatment. You may be advised to take medications such as those that reduce or neutralize stomach acid. Lifestyle changes can help you manage GERD symptoms. For example, your doctor may advise you to quit smoking, lose weight, and avoid lying down immediately after eating. In some cases, surgery may be recommended.

    West Hills Hospital is dedicated to improving patient education with informational seminars about GERD and other medical conditions. Our community hospital has provided residents of the West Hills area with exceptional healthcare for more than 50 years. For general information about our healthcare services, including emergency care, cancer care, and maternity services, you can call our Consult-A-Nurse line at (818) 676-4000.

  • Understanding the Possible Causes for Your Chest Pain

    Chest pain

    Chest pain is characterized by pain, discomfort, or pressure that can occur in the area between the neck and upper abdomen. Chest pain is a common medical concern with a wide range of possible causes. Although some of the causes of chest pain are not medical emergencies, it is critical to seek emergency care at your local hospital if you do experience chest pain. This is because it’s difficult, if not impossible, for an individual to discern the difference between chest pain caused by an anxiety attack, for instance, and a heart attack.

    Digestive Issues

    Chest pain is often caused by digestive health issues, such as stomach ulcers or gastritis. In this situation, the pain is typically relieved after eating. Heartburn or gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), and spasms of the esophagus are other possible causes. When chest pain is caused by gallstones, the pain typically worsens after eating.

    Heart Problems

    When chest pain is caused by heart or blood vessel problems, emergency care is required. Some of the possible cardiac causes of chest pain include heart attacks, swelling of the sac around the heart, and aortic dissection, or a tear in the aorta.

    Lung Conditions

    Some of the medical conditions that affect the lungs and cause chest pain also require emergency care. For example, pulmonary embolism is a life-threatening condition that requires prompt medical attention. It occurs when a blood clot travels to the lungs and blocks a blood vessel there. Other lung-related causes of chest pain may include a collapsed lung or pleurisy, which refers to swelling of the lung’s lining. If pneumonia is the culprit of chest pain, it typically causes a sharp pain that worsens upon coughing or breathing deeply.

    Psychological Factors

    If you suffer from panic attacks or severe anxiety, you may develop chest pain. Panic attacks are typically accompanied by other symptoms that may mimic a heart attack, such as nausea, shortness of breath, and a sense of impending doom.

    West Hills Hospital has earned accreditation from the Society of Chest Pain Centers for providing exceptional emergency care to patients who suffer cardiac events. Our community hospital urges you to seek emergency care promptly if chest pain arises. For general healthcare information, you can reach the Consult-A-Nurse referral line for our hospital at (818) 676-4000.

  • Exploring the Best Strategies for Flu Prevention

    Sneezing woman

    Influenza, or the flu, is an upper respiratory tract infection. This highly contagious viral infection is spread from person to person when an infected person sneezes, coughs, or speaks. These actions release flu particles, which can then be inhaled by others. The flu is a much more serious condition than the common cold and it may lead to complications that require emergency care at your local hospital . Consider taking the following preventive actions to reduce your risk of contracting this infection.

    Talk to Your Doctor about the Influenza Vaccine

    Almost everyone is a good candidate for the annual flu shot. Healthcare experts recommend the flu shot for individuals six months of age and older, and it is considered particularly important for children, the elderly, and healthcare workers to be vaccinated. Getting the flu shot each year is the most effective way to prevent infection with this virus.

    Reduce Exposure to Germs

    In addition to getting your annual flu shot , you can reduce your risk of getting sick by avoiding contact with sick people. If you become ill, try to stay home to avoid infecting others.

    Practice Good Hygiene

    Healthcare providers recommend washing your hands frequently and thoroughly with soap and water. It’s ideal to wash your hands after sneezing or coughing, before eating, before preparing meals, and after using the restroom. Additionally, sneeze or cough into a tissue or the crook of your elbow, and avoid touching your mouth, nose, or eyes.

    Disinfect Frequently Touched Surfaces

    Another way you can reduce the spread of germs is by frequently disinfecting objects and surfaces that are touched often. These include phones, doorknobs, and keyboards.

    West Hills Hospital offers a comprehensive suite of preventive healthcare services, including influenza vaccinations. Our community hospital is also proud to provide West Hills-area families with exceptional care in our burn center, maternity department, emergency care department, and cancer care center. If you would like to speak with a registered nurse about flu prevention, call our Consult-A-Nurse line at (818) 676-4000.

  • Could You Be Suffering from Rheumatoid Arthritis?

    woman's hand receiving physiotherapy

    Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is a chronic inflammatory condition that affects the joints and certain organs. RA is an autoimmune disorder that is believed to occur when the immune system mistakenly attacks joints and other structures. If you suspect you might be suffering from rheumatoid arthritis or another type of arthritis, you can consult a doctor at your local hospital . Let your doctor know about all of your symptoms and explore the treatment options available to you.

    Understanding Your Risk Factors

    You may develop RA without having any of the risk factors for it. However, having one or more risk factors does increase the possibility of being diagnosed. Smoking is considered a significant risk factor of RA because it causes chronic inflammation throughout the body. Other risk factors can include negative immune responses to infection and certain genetic variations.

    Identifying Your Symptoms

    The symptoms of RA are typically present on the same joints on either side of the body. For example, you may experience symptoms in both of your hands. The symptoms typically flare-up, or become worse, in an intermittent fashion. These symptoms can include joint pain and stiffness that is worse in the morning or after physical inactivity. The joints may be swollen, red, and warm to the touch, and they may become deformed. Other potential symptoms of RA can include fatigue, loss of appetite, weight loss, muscle aches, and sleep disturbances. Rheumatoid nodules, or bumps under the skin, can develop.

    Recognizing Potential Complications

    If RA is left untreated, patients have a greater risk of suffering from complications. These can include connective tissue disorders and cervical spine dislocation. Respiratory conditions can develop if the inflammatory response in the body causes scar tissue development in the lungs. In addition, the artery walls may become inflamed and cardiovascular problems may develop.

    West Hills residents who suffer from joint problems are encouraged to ask a physician at West Hills Hospital about our total joint care package, which includes a pre-operative education class. At our community hospital, you’ll also find comprehensive cancer care, emergency care, maternity services, and burn care. To request a referral to a specialist at our community hospital, call our Consult-A-Nurse line at (818) 676-4000.