• Types of heart rhythm problems and their treatment

    Your heart is an involuntary muscle, which means it is always contracting and relaxing without you thinking about it. The rhythm of your heart is caused by electrical activity, and should be steady and even despite your heart’s pace changing from activity or inactivity. As this video explains, there are many different types of heart rhythm problems, or arrhythmias , that may throw off your heart’s natural rhythm and present more significant health problems later, such as stroke or heart failure.

    Dr. Chow explains in the video that there are many different arrhythmias that exist and the important of narrowing down a patient’s diagnosis to select the right course of treatment and resolve symptoms—as well as mitigate future health risks. Here you can learn about some of the more common arrhythmias and get an idea of what treatments are used to correct them at Regional Medical Center of San Jose.

    Atrial fibrillation (aFib)
    Perhaps the most common type of arrhythmia, atrial fibrillation is an irregular heartbeat that originates in the atria, or upper chambers of the heart .

    Atrial flutter
    Atrial flutter also originates in the atria, but it has a much different pattern. Where the heartbeat is highly irregular with aFib, it is steadier with atrial flutter, though there is a faster rate and the occasional added or skipped beat.

    Paroxysmal supraventricular tachycardia (PSVT)
    PSVT is another type of arrhythmia in which the heart beats too fast, but this condition originates in the ventricles, or lower chambers of the heart.

    Treatment options
    There are certain conditions that can cause arrhythmias, so it’s important to work with your cardiologist for an accurate and thorough diagnosis. Once any underlying conditions are managed, your doctor may recommend drug therapy with prescription drugs to regulate the heartbeat. Should this conservative approach fail, you might consider electrical cardioversion—a treatment in which an electrical shock is sent to the heart to restart its normal rhythm—a pacemaker, or another type of implantable device designed to regulate the heartbeat through electrical stimulation.

    For exceptional cardiovascular care in your neighborhood, connect with Regional Medical Center of San Jose. Our accredited Chest Pain Center and cardiovascular surgery services are regionally recognized, and we remain invested in the most advanced treatment options to ensure your heart health. To learn more about us or request a physician referral, call (888) 762-8881.

  • Is it safe to drive yourself to the ER?

    One of the most important steps in dealing with a medical emergency is recognizing that an emergency is taking place. In some cases, it’s clear when to call 911, such as after a serious car accident or when someone is showing the symptoms of a stroke . Other times, you may recognize that you or someone else needs to see a doctor right away, but you might think that it’s better to drive to the hospital rather than wait for an ambulance.

    In general, it is better to go on the side of caution and call 911 even if you think it is safe to drive to the ER. As Dr. Justin Wang from Regional Medical Center explains in this video, you may not drive as carefully as you should, because you are trying to get to the hospital quickly or are driving recklessly due to the urgency of the situation. In addition, your symptoms may worsen when you are on the way to the hospital, putting you at risk for an accident.

    When you should call 911
    If someone is facing a life-threatening emergency, such as a heart attack or traumatic injury, you should absolutely call 911. When an ambulance arrives on the scene, lifesaving interventions can begin to take place immediately. In addition, EMS services can connect with local hospitals to help their emergency rooms prepare for a patient’s arrival and see to it that a doctor or surgeon is ready to tend to the individual upon arrival.

    Why it may be better to call an ambulance
    Along with life-saving interventions that can be offered by EMTs in the ambulance, you can access more appropriate care by calling 911. Dr. Wang provides the example of a stroke patient being taken to a regional stroke center that may be just a little further away than the closest hospital.

    When you need emergency care , never hesitate to call 911 to be taken to Regional Medical Center of San Jose. For non-emergent medical inquiries, stay in touch with us by calling (888) 762-8881.

  • Does a lump always indicate cancer?

    It can be frightening to find an abnormal lump under the skin. You should always have these changes checked out by your doctor, but try not to panic—not all lumps are cancerous . At Regional Medical Center of San Jose, we provide superior breast care for cancerous and benign conditions. You’ll hear from one of our highly trained radiation oncologists when you watch the accompanying video.

    Finding a breast lump
    The breast is one of the many areas where abnormal lumps may develop. Breast care specialists urge women to become familiar with how their breasts usually look and feel , so that it’s easier to identify changes. Your doctor may recommend that you perform a breast self-exam once per month, and depending on your age and risk factors, you may also have a yearly mammogram.

    If you do find a lump, or if you find an area of the breast or underarm that has changed, it’s best to have your doctor check it out as soon as possible. Know that most lumps found in these areas are not cancerous.

    Understanding benign breast conditions
    A breast lump that isn’t cancerous might not need treatment, although some of them do. Some examples of benign breast conditions are:

    • Breast cysts
    • Fibroadenomas
    • Hyperplasia
    • Intraductal papillomas
    • Sclerosing adenosis
    • Radial scars

    Some benign breast conditions, while not cancerous themselves, may increase the risk of breast cancer. One example is hyperplasia, which is an overgrowth of cells.

    Being diagnosed with other benign growths
    Lumps can develop in many other places besides the breasts, and it’s always a good idea to ask your doctor to evaluate these unusual changes—just in case. Much of the time, patients with atypical lumps are found to have noncancerous conditions, such as the following:

    • Ganglion cysts
    • Rheumatoid arthritis nodules
    • Adenomas
    • Fibroids
    • Lipomas
    • Hemangiomas

    Even when a lump isn’t cancerous, it might still need to be removed. Benign tumors can exert pressure on bodily structures, which might cause discomfort or functional impairment.

    Cancer Care at Regional Medical Center of San Jose is a supportive community of friendly specialists, physicians and nurses, all of whom work together to give our patients the best possible outcome. Our oncology program is comprehensive, offering diagnostics, interventions, rehabilitation, nutrition services and psychosocial support. Call (888) 762-8881 to request a referral to a specialist.

  • Understand the relationship between high blood pressure and stroke

    Although stroke is a major cause of death and disability in the U.S., it’s not an inevitable part of growing older. In fact, the majority of all strokes can be prevented with the right medical management and healthy lifestyle choices. You can discuss your risk factors of stroke with a physician at Regional Medical Center of San Jose. As a leading provider of exceptional stroke care in the area, our providers know all too well the irreversible damage stroke can cause. We encourage our neighbors to get proactive about managing risk factors like high blood pressure .

    Understanding high blood pressure
    Blood pressure is a measurement of the force the blood exerts on the walls of the arteries as it flows through. The next time you see a healthcare provider, ask for your blood pressure numbers, which will be expressed as one number over the other.

    The top number is your systolic blood pressure, which is the pressure in the arteries when the heart beats. The bottom number, diastolic blood pressure, reflects the pressure in the arteries between heartbeats when the heart relaxes. A normal blood pressure is anything less than 120 over less than 80.

    Knowing the risks of high blood pressure
    If you have high blood pressure, your arteries are under excessive stress . The high pressure within the blood vessels gradually damages and weakens them. Hypertension increases the risk of atherosclerosis, which involves the hardening, narrowing and clogging of the arteries.

    Consequently, atherosclerosis increases the risk of blood clot formation, which can cause a stroke. People with high blood pressure are also more likely to have atrial fibrillation, a type of heart arrhythmia. Atrial fibrillation causes the heart to have problems pumping out blood, and the resulting accumulation of blood can trigger blood clot formation.

    Most cases of stroke occur when a blood clot blocks the flow of blood to part of the brain. The brain cells need a constant supply of oxygen-rich blood. Without it, these cells begin dying within a matter of minutes, causing irreversible damage and potentially resulting in death.

    Regional Medical Center of San Jose is a certified Comprehensive Stroke Center—a designation that reflects our enduring commitment to superior care, immediate medical interventions, and state-of-the-art medical equipment. Every second matters when a stroke occurs, so please call 911 right away if you think you’re having a stroke. For general questions about our stroke care in San Jose, you can speak with a registered nurse at (888) 762-8881.

  • What happens if you go into labor prematurely?

    Most mothers go into labor between 38 to 42 weeks. When labor occurs between the 20 th and 37 th week of pregnancy, it’s a preterm or premature labor. Preterm labor increases the risk of health problems for the baby. This means the baby will need specialized medical care in a Neonatal Intensive Care Unit, such as the Level II NICU at Regional Medical Center of San Jose.

    Understand the risks of premature delivery
    Not all women who go into premature labor will deliver prematurely, since it’s can be possible to stop contractions. And even when a baby is born too soon, he or she might not have serious medical problems. However, expecting mothers may wish to know about the risks to the baby’s health, such as the following:

    • Breathing problems
    • Developmental delay
    • Learning disability
    • Digestive problems
    • Brain/neurological complications

    If you’re at a higher risk of premature labor, it’s particularly important to receive prenatal care from an experienced obstetrician who has admitting privileges at an NICU hospital.

    Know the warning signs of premature labor
    Women who go into premature labor may notice any of the following:

    • Backache
    • Pelvic pressure
    • Abdominal cramps, with or without diarrhea
    • Menstrual-like cramping
    • Fluid leakage from the vagina
    • Uterine contractions

    Know what to do when premature contractions start
    If you suspect you’re going into preterm labor, call your doctor right away. Your doctor will either instruct you to go to the hospital or to try the following steps:

    • Urinate
    • Lie down on your left side (not on your back)
    • Drink lots of water
    • Keep track of your contractions for an hour

    If the symptoms become worse or still linger after an hour, it’s time to go to the hospital. The doctor may give you medications to slow or halt the contractions and prevent premature delivery . Some women are also given corticosteroids, which are drugs that help the baby’s lungs and brain reach maturity faster.

    Family Birthing Center at Regional Medical Center of San Jose features a Level II NICU for all of your little miracle’s extra medical needs. Our multilingual obstetrics staff is committed to improving outcomes for preterm births, and each family can expect exceptional amenities and supportive care. Call (888) 762-8881 to request a referral to an obstetrics specialist in our hospital in San Jose.

  • What is a thyroid storm and why does it require emergency care?

    Your thyroid gland is found at the base of the neck. It produces hormones that regulate many of the body’s basic functions, including metabolism and body temperature. Some people have thyroid diseases like hyperthyroidism where the gland produces too much thyroid hormone. If hyperthyroidism isn’t well-controlled it can lead to thyroid storm. This is a life-threatening crisis, but the emergency care team at Regional Medical Center of San Jose is here 24/7 to save lives.

    How thyroid storm occurs
    A thyroid storm isn’t common. The underlying cause is the failure to treat or failure to adequately control hyperthyroidism.

    When the gland produces far too much thyroid hormone, a person may be more likely to develop thyroid storm after experiencing a major source of physical stress, such as the following:

    • Infection
    • Heart attack
    • Major trauma
    • Congestive heart failure
    • Pulmonary embolism
    • Diabetic ketoacidosis
    • Stroke

    What thyroid storm feels like
    Unfortunately, not all patients suffering from thyroid storm seek emergency care because the signs and symptoms are similar to regular hyperthyroidism. However, the symptoms of a thyroid storm are more severe and sudden. They can include:

    • Confusion
    • Agitation
    • Diarrhea
    • Shaking
    • Sweating
    • Pounding heartbeat
    • Increased body temperature
    • Changes in mental state

    What happens if thyroid storm isn’t treated
    The prognosis for untreated thyroid storm is grim. The condition can be fatal as complications develop. These complications can include heart failure, pulmonary edema and irregular heart rhythms.

    Emergency care doctors can treat thyroid storm with medications to decrease the amount of thyroid hormone in the body. Supportive therapies may be administered, such as the following:

    • Supplemental oxygen and fluids
    • Cooling blankets
    • Vitamins and glucose
    • Fluid monitoring

    After being stabilized, patients may be referred to an endocrinologist. Endocrinologists are specialists in hormones, and they can help people with hyperthyroidism manage the condition appropriately.

    At Regional Medical Center of San Jose, you’ll find emergency care physicians and nurses who continually strive for higher standards of healthcare excellence. Our compassionate providers have made it their mission in life to provide life-saving medical interventions when they’re needed most. Call 911 if you need emergency care in San Jose, or call a registered nurse at (888) 762-8881 for general information about our hospital.

  • Take a look at the dangers of blood clots

    The ability of the blood to clot is an essential first step in wound healing. But sometimes, a person’s blood may have an overactive tendency to form clots, and this may become life-threatening. When you watch the accompanying video, you’ll hear an interventional radiologist explain some of the problems that blood clots can cause. He also talks about an innovative treatment option with the advanced medical technology available at Regional Medical Center of San Jose—a widely recognized heart hospital.

    Pulmonary embolism
    Patients who have a blood clot in a deep vein, usually in the leg, have deep vein thrombosis. A blood clot in the vein can break off and travel to the lungs, which obstructs blood flow in this essential part of the body. This medical condition, known as pulmonary embolism, is a potentially fatal event that requires emergency care.

    Some patients are at a higher risk of deep vein thrombosis and pulmonary embolism, including people affected by the following:

    • Impaired mobility
    • Poor blood circulation
    • Obesity
    • Elevated estrogen
    • Heart or lung disease

    To reduce the risk of these medical problems, patients can try the following:

    • Getting up and walking around every hour or two
    • Contracting the leg muscles frequently while sitting
    • Maintaining a healthy weight

    Heart attack
    Blood clots that originally formed in the deep veins do not cause heart attacks, but clots that formed in the arteries can. This is called arterial thrombosis. This type of clot may travel to a blood vessel near the heart, interfering with blood flow there.

    Call 911 right away if you or someone else has any signs of a possible heart attack, such as the following:

    • Chest pain or pressure
    • Pain that extends to the jaw, shoulders, back, arm or upper abdomen
    • Dizziness
    • Shortness of breath

    Stroke
    Most cases of stroke are ischemic, which means they are caused by a blood clot that deprives a region of the brain of oxygenated blood. Like the blood clots that cause heart attacks, these clots form in an artery . Emergency care is essential when the symptoms of a stroke develop.

    • One-sided muscle weakness, numbness or paralysis
    • Drooping of one side of a smile
    • Excruciating headache
    • Trouble walking
    • Problems speaking or understanding speech

    The emergency care and cardiovascular services available at Regional Medical Center of San Jose are second to none. The entire team at our heart hospital in San Jose is focused on healthcare excellence through our patient-centered approach and sophisticated medical technology. Call 911 for medical emergencies, or call a registered nurse at (888) 762-8881 for general information.

  • When are toys potentially dangerous?

    Parents often assume that if a toy is sold in the U.S., it has automatically met certain safety standards. But unfortunately, emergency care physicians across the U.S. treat about a quarter of a million kids for toy-related injuries in an average year. The emergency care team at Regional Medical Center of San Jose urges parents in our community to evaluate every toy for potential safety hazards before letting their little ones play.

    When the toy isn’t recommended for a child’s age
    Always check the packaging for the recommended age range. If your child is too young for a particular toy, you should keep it out of reach for the time being.

    This can be tricky in households with children of different ages. If an older child has toys that a younger sibling shouldn’t play with, these toys should be restricted to one room in the home. The older child can store them on a shelf that the younger sibling can’t reach.

    When they have sharp points or edges
    Emergency care physicians see toy-related eye injuries all too often. Never let a young child play with a toy that has a sharp or rigid point. Additionally, make sure the toy won’t easily break into small or sharp components.

    When they feature projectiles
    Other types of toys that can cause eye injuries and vision loss include any that shoot projectiles. Keep your child out of emergency care by preventing him or her from playing with any of the following toys:

    • Slingshots
    • Darts
    • Bow and arrows
    • Toy guns

    When toys present a risk of choking
    Use the toilet tube test to find out if a toy has parts that are small enough to present a choking hazard. If any part of the toy can fit through a toilet paper tube, it’s too small for a young child. Additionally, consider whether any part of the toy could break off and then cause a choking incident.

    It’s distressing to see a child in pain, which is why the healthcare providers at Regional Medical Center of San Jose work tirelessly to keep our ER wait times consistently below the national average. Please call 911 right away if your child has sustained a severe injury. For general information about our medical specialties available in San Jose, call our nurse referral line at (888) 762-8881.

  • When are toys potentially dangerous?

    Parents often assume that if a toy is sold in the U.S., it has automatically met certain safety standards. But unfortunately, emergency care physicians across the U.S. treat about a quarter of a million kids for toy-related injuries in an average year. The emergency care team at Regional Medical Center of San Jose urges parents in our community to evaluate every toy for potential safety hazards before letting their little ones play.

    When the toy isn’t recommended for a child’s age
    Always check the packaging for the recommended age range. If your child is too young for a particular toy, you should keep it out of reach for the time being.

    This can be tricky in households with children of different ages. If an older child has toys that a younger sibling shouldn’t play with, these toys should be restricted to one room in the home. The older child can store them on a shelf that the younger sibling can’t reach.

    When they have sharp points or edges
    Emergency care physicians see toy-related eye injuries all too often. Never let a young child play with a toy that has a sharp or rigid point. Additionally, make sure the toy won’t easily break into small or sharp components.

    When they feature projectiles
    Other types of toys that can cause eye injuries and vision loss include any that shoot projectiles. Keep your child out of emergency care by preventing him or her from playing with any of the following toys:

    • Slingshots
    • Darts
    • Bow and arrows
    • Toy guns

    When toys present a risk of choking
    Use the toilet tube test to find out if a toy has parts that are small enough to present a choking hazard. If any part of the toy can fit through a toilet paper tube, it’s too small for a young child. Additionally, consider whether any part of the toy could break off and then cause a choking incident.

    It’s distressing to see a child in pain, which is why the healthcare providers at Regional Medical Center of San Jose work tirelessly to keep our ER wait times consistently below the national average. Please call 911 right away if your child has sustained a severe injury. For general information about our medical specialties available in San Jose, call our nurse referral line at (888) 762-8881.

  • Don’t let your holidays end in stitches

    No one expects holiday fun to end in a visit to emergency care, but holiday-related accidents are surprisingly common. Some of those accidents can result in minor to major lacerations and puncture wounds. At Regional Medical Center of San Jose , our emergency care specialists are available every day of the year, even on holidays, because we’re committed to protecting the lives of our neighbors. If you have a laceration that fits any of the criteria outlined in the accompanying video, you may need to visit our ER for stitches.

    Wear shoes indoors
    Foot lacerations can occur when someone steps on a breakable or sharp ornament. If your holiday festivities will include an indoor tree, take care to wear shoes indoors at all times.

    Wearing shoes is particularly important for people with diabetes. Diabetes can result in nerve damage, which inhibits a person’s ability to perceive an injury. This chronic disease also inhibits blood circulation, which can lead to delayed wound healing.

    Exercise caution on the roadways
    Millions of people travel for the holidays. Regardless of how far you have to travel, be careful behind the wheel. The extra traffic—and the stress of getting to a relative’s house on time—increase the risk of accidents.

    Being a defensive driver is a good idea throughout the holiday season, not just on the day itself. Holiday shoppers are often stressed about getting everything on their to-do list done, and this can lead them to drive more recklessly. Keep a close eye on the traffic patterns on all sides of your own vehicle.

    Know how to carve a turkey safely
    Turkey carving injuries are more common than you might think. A carving-related accident often involves severe hand and finger injuries , and these may require specialized emergency care. Protect your hands with these safe knife handling tips:

    • Sharpen the carving knife beforehand

    • Use an electric knife, if available

    • Cut away from your body and hands

    • Avoid placing a hand underneath the blade to catch the turkey slice

    • Ensure that your knife handle is dry

    Regional Medical Center of San Jose is here to help around the clock because the health and safety of our patients are our top priorities. Our emergency care physicians and nurses offer rapid pain management and comprehensive wound treatment . If you have a non-emergent medical need and would like to request a physician referral, you can call a registered nurse in San Jose at (888) 762-8881.