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.

What are the most common birth defects?

A birth defect is an abnormality present at birth. Some of them have genetic causes, while others are linked to environmental risk factors. In many cases, the cause of a birth defect is unknown. While it isn’t always possible to prevent birth defects, expecting mothers can take precautions to reduce the risk. At Good Samaritan Hospital, you’ll find compassionate maternity specialists who look forward to helping your baby have the healthiest possible start in life.

Heart defects
Sometimes, the heart of a fetus doesn’t develop properly before birth. For example, aortic valve stenosis occurs when a heart valve can’t function properly. Atrial septal and ventricular septal defects occur when there is a hole in the wall that divides the chambers of the heart.

It’s possible for a baby to be diagnosed with more than one heart defect. Tetralogy of Fallot is diagnosed when all four of the following abnormalities are present:

  • There is an obstruction from the heart to the lungs
  • The heart muscle in the lower right chamber is thickened
  • There is a hole in the wall that divides the lower chambers
  • The aorta, a blood vessel, rests over the hole

Many children born with heart defects either don’t require treatment or are successfully treated.

Spina bifida
Spina bifida is a neural tube defect. It occurs when the fetal backbone fails to close properly—a problem that can cause damage to the delicate spinal cord.

The mildest form of spina bifida might not be diagnosed until later in the child’s life. The most serious form is immediately apparent at birth, as there is an opening in the baby’s back. A sac of fluid protrudes through this opening.

Prenatal care effectively reduces the risk of spina bifida. Since neural tube defects can develop before women even realize they’re pregnant, doctors often recommend that all women of reproductive age take a folic acid supplement daily.

Babies born with clubfoot have tendons that are too short. This causes the feet to become twisted into an atypical shape or position. Later in life, it can cause problems walking.

Clubfoot is treatable soon after birth with specialized stretching and casting. Some babies require surgical correction.

Birthing Center at Good Samaritan Hospital was designated a family favorite for 2017 in Bay Area Parent magazine! Take a tour of our tranquil maternity hospital in San Jose, and find out for yourself why so many expecting parents choose us for their labor and delivery. You can connect with a friendly member of our nursing staff at (888) 724-2362.

How donating blood can be good for your heart

Every day, hospitals around the U.S. use thousands of pints of blood. Blood transfusions are used in emergency care wings for severely injured patients, for patients going through surgery, cancer treatments and in labor and delivery. Each time you donate a pint of blood, you could be saving the lives of up to three people. There is always a desperate need for more blood donors, as many people never donate blood, and many who try find they are ineligible to donate. During National Blood Donor Month, the team at Good Samaritan Hospital encourages our neighbors in San Jose to consider giving the gift of life.

Blood donors are given a quick physical
One of the top priorities in the public health field is ensuring the safety of the nation’s blood supply. This means that all potential blood donors are rigorously screened for health problems, such as infectious diseases.

After you go through an extensive health questionnaire, you’ll be given a mini physical, including a check of your:

  • Hemoglobin levels
  • Blood pressure
  • Pulse
  • Body temperature

Since blood pressure is a major indicator of cardiovascular health, getting yours checked can improve your understanding of your risk factors of heart disease. If the blood drive volunteer informs you that your blood pressure is higher than the ideal range, consider making an appointment with your primary care doctor.

Blood donation might support blood vessel health
The evidence isn’t conclusive, but some researchers think that becoming a regular blood donor might improve the flow of blood. When there is less resistance to the flow of blood, there is a reduced risk of damage to the lining of the blood vessel walls. Consequently, this might reduce the risk of arterial blockages and the heart attacks they cause.

Blood donors may have balanced iron levels
Another possibility regarding cardiovascular health and blood donation is the effect blood donation has on iron levels. Each time you donate a pint of blood, you lose a little iron. Some people have too much iron in their bodies, which may put cardiovascular health at risk.

If you have concerns about donating blood, your doctor at Good Samaritan Hospital is always here to help. Your gift can make the difference between life and death for someone right here in our San Jose community. If you have any general questions about our hospital services, a registered nurse is available to take your call at (888) 724-2362.

Can a blockage form after a stent has been placed?

Cardiac catheterization is a common procedure used to check for areas of blockages in blood vessels. During this procedure, cardiologists may perform a balloon angioplasty to reopen a narrowed portion of the blood vessel, and they may place a stent at that site to keep the vessel open. A stent is a tiny tube made of wire mesh. You can hear an explanation of this procedure when you watch the accompanying video. It features a cardiologist at Good Samaritan Hospital.

Post-operative blood vessel blockages
After this procedure, it’s possible for a blood vessel to become narrow again, which is the reason why surgeons often place stents at the blockage site. It’s uncommon for another narrowing to occur at the stent site.

However, as the cardiologist in the accompanying video explains, it’s still possible for the patient to have a narrowing in a different, previously untreated part of the blood vessel.

Coronary artery blockages
When a coronary artery can’t transport enough blood to the heart, the patient can experience shortness of breath and angina, or chest pain. If the blood vessel is completely blocked, the patient suffers a life-threatening heart attack.

Patients suffering from possible heart attack symptoms should call 911 immediately. Emergency care can save lives and improve outcomes. The symptoms of a heart attack can include:

  • Chest pain or pressure
  • Pain that extends to the shoulders, upper back, upper abdomen or jaw
  • Dizziness
  • Extreme fatigue
  • Cold sweats
  • Lightheadedness

Post-operative lifestyle modifications
Patients who have had a stent placed are referred to a cardiac rehabilitation program. This is a comprehensive, patient-focused program that takes a collaborative approach toward managing heart disease to prevent blockages from affecting other areas of the coronary artery. In a cardiac rehab program, a patient may receive:

  • Smoking cessation counseling
  • Medication management assistance
  • Nutritional guidance
  • Exercise guidance
  • Stress management guidance

Cardiac and Vascular Institute at Good Samaritan Hospital is the cardiology program of choice in San Jose and throughout Santa Clara County. Our commitment to healthcare excellence and our investment in state-of-the-art medical technology give our heart patients the best possible outcome. Call 911 if you require emergency care, or call a registered nurse at (888) 724-2362 for general healthcare questions.

Assess your risk for pneumonia

Each time you take a breath, the air is carried through your trachea, to your lungs, and down “branches” called bronchioles. Air sacs, called alveoli, are found at the end of the bronchioles. The alveoli allow oxygen to enter the bloodstream. These air sacs look like very tiny bunches of grapes, and your lungs have millions of them. If an emergency care physician at Good Samaritan Hospital diagnoses you with pneumonia, it means that an infection has inflamed these air sacs, causing them to fill with fluid or pus. Some people may only have mild symptoms of pneumonia, but for others, this infection may become life-threatening.

Your age
Your age can influence your risk of contracting pneumonia and suffering severe symptoms. Individuals who are age 65 or older are at a higher risk due to changes of the immune system associated with the aging process.

If your household includes a child age two or younger, that child is also at an increased risk of serious illness. At this young age, a child’s immune system is still immature.

Your environment
Your environment can refer to your home, workplace and the community as a whole. You may be at a higher risk of pneumonia if you’re often exposed to toxic fumes, pollutants and chemicals.

Living in a dormitory, retirement home or long-term care community exposes you to all sorts of germs from many people. Similarly, people who work in hospitals, libraries, schools and daycare centers are exposed to plenty of germs that might cause pneumonia.

Your lifestyle habits
Some risk factors for contracting pneumonia are manageable with lifestyle modifications. To reduce your risk of pneumonia, your physician may recommend:

  • Quitting smoking
  • Limiting or abstaining from alcohol
  • Improving your nutrition

Lifestyle changes aren’t always easy to make, but your doctor can provide the personalized guidance you need.

Your medical conditions
People with certain underlying medical conditions are at an elevated risk of pneumonia. Managing these medical issues with your doctor’s help may help reduce your risk. These health problems include:

  • Suppressed immune system
  • History of lung disease
  • Problems swallowing or coughing
  • Mobility impairment
  • Diabetes
  • Heart failure
  • Sickle cell disease

The emergency care team at Good Samaritan Hospital is here around the clock, every day of the year to take care of your family. Our highly trained healthcare providers in San Jose understand that a visit to the ER is stressful, which is why we go the extra mile to make your time with us as pleasant and hassle-free as possible. Our nurse referral line is available at (888) 724-2362.

How the holidays can affect problems with addiction

For people who have never experienced chemical dependency, addiction can be difficult to understand. Addiction is recognized as a disease. It involves changes of the brain, which means that willpower alone isn’t enough to overcome it. Addiction is difficult for families to deal with at any time of the year, but the holiday season presents unique challenges. In the accompanying video, a psychiatrist at Good Samaritan Hospital recommends that families of addicts and recovering addicts seek help for themselves in order to better help their loved ones.

Understanding holiday-related stressors
The holidays are supposed to be a merry time of year, when families can relax and enjoy each other’s company. For recovering addicts, however, the holidays may only bring more pressure to stay sober. Try to put yourself in your loved one’s shoes to understand what he or she is dealing with.

The holiday season can induce worsening stress, anxiety and depression in some individuals, which can trigger a chemical dependency relapse. Holiday gift-giving can highlight financial problems—another possible trigger for relapse.

Additionally, there are societal pressures to enjoy alcoholic beverages at holiday parties. Get-togethers may put recovering addicts in contact with family members and friends, with whom they previously drank or did drugs.

Providing opportunities for substance abuse
Families often travel for the holiday season, which can expose the recovering addict to substances of abuse. Even if the host of the gathering is forewarned to not serve alcohol, it’s possible that the recovering addict will find prescription medications in the bathroom cabinet. Relapse is very common, but families can help prevent it by controlling the environment.

Before traveling with a loved one with addiction, call the host and ask that all alcohol and medications be kept under lock and key. If your family will be staying at a hotel, call the front desk ahead of time to request that all alcohol be removed from the mini bar before your loved one checks in.

Having a backup plan
Since relapse is common, families should have a backup plan that they can use to help their loved one get through an urge to drink or take drugs. Designate someone whom the recovering addict trusts to stay close to your loved one during holiday get-togethers. The buddy system gives the recovering addict someone to talk to if problems occur, and the designated buddy can get your loved one out of challenging environments if the need arises.

Behavioral Health Services are available at Good Samaritan Hospital throughout the year. Our compassionate providers are committed to improving quality of life for families throughout our San Jose community. Talk to a trusted, friendly member of our nursing staff by calling (888) 724-2362.

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