Good Samaritan Hospital
Through leadership in research and adopting the latest technological and clinical practices, Good Samaritan Hospital offers excellent medical care for the people of Silicon Valley.

Does taking the birth control pill increase your stroke risk?

Although a stroke can happen to anyone, some people have a higher risk than others. Understanding your personal risk factors will help you know what steps you can take to cut your chances of having a stroke and may also make you more aware of the symptoms so you act quickly to get to a hospital if you experience them. One risk factor that many people overlook is taking birth control pills. Here’s what you need to know about the link between birth control pills and stroke risk.

How much do birth control pills impact stroke risk?
The risk of having a stroke can be twice as great in women who take birth control pills than in those who do not. This statistic applies even to women who take low-estrogen forms of birth control.

This increased risk is also present in women who do not have any other risk factors for stroke. In women who have additional stroke risk factors who also take birth control pills, the risk may be even higher.

What is the link between birth control pills and stroke risk?
Birth control pills can increase the amount clotting factors in the blood, which in turn makes blood clots more likely to form. Blood clots may travel to the brain and block a blood vessel, which in turn causes an ischemic stroke to occur. Birth control pills are specifically associated with this kind of stroke and do not seem to increase the chances of hemorrhagic strokes.

As the video explains, birth control pills can also cause blood vessels to thicken. This makes them become narrower, which can also contribute to blockages.

Who should stop taking birth control pills?
The only way to decide if birth control pills are safe for you is to discuss your options with your physician. Generally, some physicians recommend that women with a number of additional stroke risk factors consider other forms of birth control. For instance, women who smoke may not be good candidates for birth control pills.

The Women’s Services team at Good Samaritan Hospital can help you weigh all of your options for birth control and make a decision that is right for your specific needs. Request a referral to a physician or learn more about our hospital services in San Jose by calling (888) 724-2362.

Is it ever safe to stop using condoms?

Condoms are the best protection you can have from sexually transmitted diseases, also known as STDs, aside from abstinence. They are also effective in preventing pregnancy. However, it is natural for couples to eventually want to move away from using condoms—but is it ever safe? In honor of National Condom Day, which takes place on February 14, here are some things you should consider before you decide to give up condoms in your relationship.

Have you been tested for STDs?
You can’t look at someone and tell if he or she has an STD. Many STDs don’t cause any visible symptoms at all, so you also can’t determine if you or your partner has an STD by appearance. Likewise, don’t know if your partner has exposed you to an STD because you haven’t experienced any symptoms.

The only way to know for sure if you or your partner has an STD is to get tested and to share the results with each other.

Have you chosen another form of birth control?
If you do not wish to start a family, have you chosen another form of birth control that is as effective as condoms? There are a number of different choices available, from birth control pills to IUDs, however, not every form is right for everyone.

When you choose a new method of birth control, it has to be used correctly to be effective, so make sure you understand exactly how to use it and exactly when it will start protecting you from pregnancy.

Have you discussed monogamy?
If both you and your partner have confirmed that you are free from STDs, the only way to stay that way is to remain monogamous with each other. Before you stop using condoms, discuss monogamy and if you are both committed to only being intimate with each other.

If someone has oral, anal, or vaginal sex outside of the relationship, you should return to using condoms until you can be tested again. Keep in mind that it can take three months for some STDs to show up in tests.

Take control of your sexual health today with the help of a physician at Good Samarian Hospital . From women’s services to our birthing center, our providers can help with sexual health and family planning. For a referral to a physician in San Jose, call our hospital at (888) 724-2362.

Knowing your risk for a brain aneurysm

Sometimes, the blood vessels in the brain can develop a weakened section that can bulge outward. This is a brain aneurysm. Some people with a brain aneurysm don’t know they have it, and it causes no problems. However, if a brain aneurysm ruptures, it’s a potentially life-threatening medical problem that requires emergency care. If you develop any possible signs of a ruptured brain aneurysm, such as an excruciating headache, stiff neck and blurry vision, call 911 immediately. The neuroscience specialists at Good Samaritan Hospital are here to help.

Risk factors of brain aneurysms that are present at birth
Some risk factors of brain aneurysms aren’t modifiable with lifestyle changes. For instance, your family history might raise your risk of this health problem. Watch this video to hear a neurosurgeon at Good Samaritan Hospital explain how genetics influences aneurysm risk.

Cerebral arteriovenous malformation is a condition that affected patients are usually born with. It’s a tangle of blood vessels in the brain that features abnormal connections to other nearby blood vessels. Over time, this abnormality can cause damage that may lead to an aneurysm.

Other risk factors that are present at birth include:

  • Atypically narrow aorta
  • Polycystic kidney disease
  • Inherited connective tissue disorders that result in weak blood vessels

Risk factors of brain aneurysms that are acquired
Acquired risk factors are those that develop over the course of the patient’s lifetime. People who are older may be at a higher risk of brain aneurysms. A head injury may lead to an aneurysm, as can some blood infections.

One of the most impactful risk factors is smoking. It isn’t known exactly why smoking can lead to brain aneurysms, but it’s thought that the damage done to blood vessels plays a role. Other substances of abuse can raise the risk, including illicit drugs like cocaine and the heavy consumption of alcohol.

High blood pressure is another acquired risk factor. It’s manageable with a healthy diet and regular exercise, and sometimes medications.

Neurosciences Program at Good Samaritan Hospital has been recognized as a leader in the field of brain diseases and conditions. Patients with complicated central nervous system problems can receive the high-quality care they need with the compassionate service they deserve right here in our San Jose community. Please call 911 immediately for emergency care, or call a registered nurse at (888) 724-2362 for non-emergent inquiries only.

Why should you participate in National Wear Red Day?

National Wear Red Day is dedicated to raising awareness about the issue of heart disease in women. Men and women alike dramatically underestimate the risk of heart disease women face, which can lead women to make uninformed decisions about their health or fail to seek fast treatment when they are experiencing the signs of a heart attack. In 2018, National Wear Red Day falls on February 2. Here are a few reasons you should take part.

1 in 3 women die of heart disease or stroke
Heart disease is often thought of as a man’s problem but is not the case. National Wear Red Day helps to spread the word that women are just as likely to experience heart disease as men.

A woman dies of heart disease or stroke every 80 seconds. By recognizing this risk, women can be proactive about taking control of their heart health, such as by learning the five numbers that have an immediate impact on their risk of heart disease:

  • Total cholesterol
  • HDL cholesterol (also called good cholesterol)
  • BMI
  • Blood pressure
  • Blood sugar

Women delay treatment for heart attack symptoms
Because women underestimate their risk of having heart disease, they often ignore the signs of a heart attack. Any delay in cardiac care during a heart attack can be deadly. In some cases, physicians can also be slower in treating heart attacks in women because they attribute the symptoms to something else.

Women also tend to experience heart attacks differently than men. They may have symptoms they don’t immediately attribute to a heart attack, such as:

  • Fatigue
  • Nausea
  • Lightheadedness
  • Sweating

Heart disease is preventable
Doctors estimate that 80% of cardiac incidents and strokes could be prevented with awareness and actions to reduce risk factors. National Wear Red Day reminds women and their loved ones of the importance of knowing their risk factors for heart disease and taking the appropriate steps to control them.

Good Samaritan Hospital offers comprehensive cardiac care services, from our emergency room, which is a designated STEMI receiving center, to our inpatient Cardiac and Vascular Institute. For more information about our cardiac care services or a referral to a cardiologist, call (888) 724-2362.

Protecting your joints while exercising

Maintaining a healthy weight and exercising regularly are great ways to improve joint health. But if you already have joint health problems like arthritis, exercise can be challenging. Before starting or changing your exercise routine, consider speaking with a provider at Good Samaritan Hospital. Our orthopedic specialists are second to none, and we also offer inpatient and outpatient rehabilitative care.

Designing your exercise program
Your doctor or physical therapist can design a safe and effective exercise program for you. A comprehensive exercise program includes these components:

  • Aerobic exercise
  • Strengthening exercise
  • Flexibility/range of motion exercise

Patients with joint pain should avoid high-impact exercises, unless a doctor has said they’re alright to do. Some good low-impact exercises include:

  • Swimming and aquatic fitness classes
  • Walking
  • Cycling
  • Pilates
  • Yoga
  • Resistance band strength training
  • Tai chi

Improving physical fitness gradually
The general recommendation for physical fitness for adults is to get at least 30 minutes of exercise on at least five days per week, plus strength training sessions. However, trying to meet these recommendations right from the start is a recipe for joint pain.

Instead, set reasonable goals with the help of your physical therapist. Depending on the severity of your joint pain and your overall health, you might start by simply walking for five minutes at a time, several times per day. Eventually, you’ll work your way up to more intense, longer workouts.

Using a supportive brace
Your doctor might recommend that you wear an over-the-counter brace while you exercise. The right style of brace for your particular medical needs can give your joints extra support while you work out. Braces may also help by providing mild compression and distributing physical stress more appropriately.

Strengthening supportive muscles
A physical therapist can show you how to safely strengthen the muscles that support your painful joints. For instance, if you have knee pain, you can strengthen your quadriceps with straight leg raises. Do single leg dips to strengthen the hamstrings in the back of the thigh.

Good Samaritan Hospital is a leader in innovative joint health solutions—both surgical and nonsurgical. Our orthopedic specialists in San Jose provide superior care that’s focused on improving quality of life. Call our nurse referral line at (888) 724-2362.

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