• Do you know your diabetes risk?

    An estimated 7.2 million Americans are currently living with diabetes , but unaware that they have it. Tens of millions more are living with prediabetes, which can progress to diabetes. If you’ve never had a diabetes screening before, now is the perfect time to get acquainted with your blood glucose level. The American Diabetes Association has designated each fourth Tuesday in March as Diabetes Alert Day. It’s intended to be a wake-up call that encourages individuals to visit their local hospital to get screened. At West Hills Hospital, you’ll receive the superior medical care you need and the compassionate guidance you deserve.

    Family history
    Let your doctor know if you have any biological relatives with diabetes. Your risk could be elevated if the disease tends to run in your family.

    Personal history
    If you’re a woman of reproductive age, you should be aware of the possibility of developing gestational diabetes during pregnancy. Gestational diabetes typically resolves after childbirth, provided it’s managed properly. However, having a prior history of this disease can increase your risk of developing type 2 diabetes later on.

    You may also be at a higher risk if you gave birth to a baby weighing nine or more pounds.

    Type 2 diabetes is more commonly diagnosed among individuals age 45 and older. As you grow older, your pancreatic islet function starts to decline .

    This means your pancreas can’t produce as much insulin as before. Additionally, insulin resistance can worsen with age, particularly with unhealthy lifestyle decisions.

    Medical conditions
    Your doctor should know about all of your previously diagnosed medical conditions. Some of them might increase your risk of diabetes, even if they seem unrelated. For example, you could be at a higher risk if you have any of the following:

    • Overweight or obesity
    • High blood pressure
    • High triglyceride level
    • Low HDL cholesterol
    • Heart disease
    • Prior stroke
    • Depression
    • Polycystic ovary syndrome
    • Acanthosis nigricans
    • Depression

    Lifestyle choices
    Although some of the risk factors of diabetes aren’t modifiable, many of them are. You can improve your management of pre-existing medical conditions with help from your physician.

    Your doctor can also help you improve your lifestyle choices. Poor diet and lack of exercise are risk factors, but making small changes over time can make a big difference in your health.

    At every stage of life, West Hills Hospital is your partner in health. Your doctor will work closely with you to help you manage your risk of chronic diseases like diabetes. Call (818) 676-4321 to request a physician referral from a registered nurse at our hospital in West Hills.

  • Guidelines for living with MS

    Multiple sclerosis is a devastating diagnosis to cope with. This disease, which can be disabling, affects the central nervous system. MS occurs when the immune system damages the myelin sheath that protects nerve fibers. As the nerves themselves become damaged, functional impairments develop. Living with MS isn’t easy, but at West Hills Hospital, you can receive compassionate and supportive care from healthcare providers who are genuinely concerned about your quality of life. Whatever challenges you face with MS, we’re here to help.

    Making physical health decisions
    Multiple sclerosis isn’t yet curable. Your doctor can help you manage your symptoms. You’ll also learn about the effects of healthy lifestyle decisions on the progression of your disease.

    You can work toward optimum health despite MS by:

    • Eating nutritionally balanced meals
    • Exercising with the guidance of your doctor
    • Quitting smoking or not starting
    • Avoiding secondhand smoke
    • Limiting alcohol use

    Developing emotional resiliency
    Emotional resiliency is particularly important for patients with chronic diseases. When you take care of your emotional health, you are:

    • More likely to make healthy lifestyle decisions
    • Better able to manage chronic stress
    • Better able to maintain healthy relationships
    • More likely to enjoy higher quality of life

    Be mindful of your mood, and talk to your doctor if you’ve noticed that you’re experiencing persistent or severe mental health issues. You could consider speaking with a counselor. Reach out to your loved ones for support, and don’t be shy about speaking up when you need help.

    Supporting your cognitive health
    Many patients with MS will experience some degree of decline in cognitive functioning. Over time, you may start to notice some issues with your memory and attention.

    Fortunately, enhancing your cognitive health is as easy as playing fun games, like crossword puzzles, brain teasers and Sudoku puzzles. Other ways of stimulating your brain include:

    • Reading
    • Creative writing
    • Card games
    • Social activities

    At any time of the day or night, you can connect with a registered nurse at West Hills Hospital. Call (818) 676-4321, or browse the helpful health information available in our online library. Although there is no cure for MS, our team of highly trained doctors and nurses is committed to helping you live life well.

  • How is colorectal cancer treated?

    Your digestive system has a large and small intestine. The large intestine, also known as the colon, is the one closest to the rectum. When cancer cells grow within the colon or rectum, it’s called colorectal cancer . Like all cancers, this disease is serious, and it requires prompt treatment. The Cancer Care team at West Hills Hospital is here to help your family during the difficult time after a diagnosis. Your treatment plan depends on how advanced the cancer is, and on your unique health history.

    Cancer experts recommend that all adults get screened for colon cancer on a routine basis, starting no later than age 50. The gold standard of colorectal cancer screening is a colonoscopy, which is a straightforward procedure that allows the doctor to examine the insides of the colon and rectum.

    The doctor may notice polyps, which are growths. Some polyps can become cancerous.

    Doctors can often remove these polyps during the colonoscopy. Assuming no cancer is present beyond the polyps, and all of the polyps are successfully removed, you might not need any additional treatment.

    When more aggressive treatment is needed, the cancer specialist may recommend a partial colectomy. This is a surgery to remove the part of the colon that has cancer. The surgeon will also remove nearby lymph nodes.

    Chemotherapy may be given before or after cancer surgery, or as an alternative to surgery if you aren’t healthy enough to withstand the procedure.

    Chemotherapy drugs are given in cycles, and a cycle may last two to six weeks. Some patients may only receive chemo once at the start of each cycle, or multiple doses may be given.

    Radiation therapy
    Radiation therapy is another option for patients with advanced colorectal cancer. In these cases, it may be used as a palliative treatment. This means the radiation therapy is intended to shrink the tumor to relieve symptoms , but it isn’t expected to result in a cure.

    Cancer Care at West Hills Hospital brings together board-certified specialists with state-of-the-art medical equipment to give your family the help you need close to your home in West Hills. Our Cancer Care experts will be here for you through each step of your treatment plan. Call a trusted member of our nursing staff at (818) 676-4321 to request a referral.

  • Understanding binge eating disorder

    Binge eating disorder is a common but largely unrecognized and misunderstood eating disorder. Recovery is possible, often with a combination of treatments, including behavioral health services and medications. By understanding the signs of the disorder, sufferers can recognize their symptoms and know when to talk to their physicians. Here is what you need to know about this serious condition.

    What is binge eating disorder?
    Binge eating disorder is not a new eating disorder, but it is newly recognized as its own disorder rather than a symptom of another issue. Although it remains less well known than other conditions like anorexia nervosa or bulimia, it is actually the most common eating disorder in the US .

    Binge eating disorder is characterized by episodes of consuming excessive amounts of foods without purging to get rid of the calories. Periods of eating are typically followed by intense periods of shame and guilt.

    What are the symptoms?
    Binge eating disorder is marked by episodes of overeating, or binge eating. These episodes take place during a specific period of time—in other words, they have a start and finish, rather than being ongoing. Binge episodes are usually characterized by these behaviors:

    • Feeling out of control and unable to stop to eating
    • Eating until uncomfortable
    • Eating when not hungry
    • Hiding eating habits out of embarrassment
    • Feeling intense guilty or depression after binging
    • Not purging, over-exercising, or otherwise trying to offset the increased calorie consumption.

    People with binge eating disorder usually have episodes once or more per week for three months.

    Who is most at risk of developing binge eating disorder?
    Anyone can develop binge eating disorder, but it most frequently appears in teens and young adults. Women account for about 60% of patients. People with issues with low self-esteem, depression, and a family history of binge eating disorder are most at risk.

    Don’t let concerns about your eating behaviors go unchecked. Contact West Hills Hospital & Medical Center to find a physician who can help you evaluate your habits and help you find the right treatment for your needs. To request a referral or to learn more about our hospital in West Hills, please call (818) 676-4321.