• 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.

  • 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.

    Clubfoot
    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.

  • Why is hand washing so much more important during flu season?

    Flu viruses cause many of the same symptoms as colds, but influenza can be much more serious. Some patients are more susceptible to severe symptoms and potentially life-threatening complications. At Good Samaritan Hospital, we emphasize the value of preventive care for our neighbors in San Jose, and that includes reducing the spread of disease-causing germs with thorough hand washing.

    The flu vaccine is effective, but not foolproof

    To get ready for every flu season, virus experts identify the strains of flu virus that are most likely to be widespread in the U.S. Seasonal flu shots are developed and manufactured to protect families from these flu viruses.

    Doctors recommend an annual flu shot because it’s the most effective way to avoid this serious illness. However, because the shot can’t protect patients from every possible strain of flu virus, it isn’t 100 percent foolproof. This is why emergency care doctors encourage families to continue to protect themselves in other ways, such as by washing their hands frequently.

    Viruses can live outside the human body

    If a person sneezes into his or her hand, you probably wouldn’t shake that hand. This is a smart way to protect yourself, but it’s still possible to contract the flu even if you avoid direct contact with sick individuals.

    Flu viruses can remain active and infectious on surfaces for up to 24 hours. If an infected person opens a door and you touch the doorknob afterward, you could get these germs on your hand. In addition to washing your hands regularly, consider routinely disinfecting commonly touched surfaces in your home and workstation, such as the following:

    • Phones
    • Doorknobs
    • Refrigerator handles
    • TV remotes
    • Light switches
    • Computer devices

    Hand washing protects yourself and others

    When you choose to wash your hands frequently during flu season, you’re protecting your family and the community as a whole, as well as yourself. This is significant because some people are unable to safely get the flu shot, such as infants under six months of age and individuals with life-threatening egg allergies. Doing your part to reduce germ transmission is one way you can keep your neighbors safe.

    Good Samaritan Hospital delivers patient-centered emergency care around the clock, every day of the year. Our compassionate doctors and nurses are committed to maintaining the highest standards of infection control in our hospital in San Jose. For information about our healthcare services, you can speak with a registered nurse at (888) 724-2362.