Women and statins: evidence-based medicine or wishful thinking?

14 Dec

by Carolyn Thomas    @HeartSisters

Are you:

A.  a healthy woman who’s never had any issues with your heart, but . . .

B you know heart disease is the #1 killer of women, so . . .

C.  you’re wondering what you can do to help prevent B from happening to you?

Warding off a first heart attack is what physicians call “primary prevention”. It’s also what respected cardiologists representing both the American Heart Association and the American College of Cardiology are now telling us can be effectively accomplished by taking one of the cholesterol-lowering drugs known as statins.

But it turns out that many other equally-respected cardiologists don’t believe that taking a powerful drug every day for the rest of your natural life for a disease you don’t even have is appropriate for primary prevention – particularly in womenContinue reading

Failure to refer: why are doctors ignoring cardiac rehab?

7 Dec

by Carolyn Thomas     @HeartSisters

Anne-Marie felt nervous after she was discharged from hospital following triple bypass surgery. She had only her immediate family to help her at home. And as she described:

“I felt like I fell through the cracks. When I left the hospital, my husband was given a sick woman in a wheelchair and a big bag of pills. I had heard about cardiac rehabilitation, so I followed up to see if I could join a program as I thought this could help me get back on my feet.

“But I was told they would get back to me. When they finally did – 15 weeks after my operation – I was already back at work, so couldn’t attend. I wasn’t offered any other alternative.”

When the British Heart Foundation’s National Audit of Cardiac Rehabilitation report was published, a blunt analysis by their auditors concluded that “cardiac rehabilitation remains a Cinderella service.” 

But the grim reality is hardly less Cinderella-ish on this side of the pond. And the reason so many freshly-diagnosed heart patients like Anne-Marie are falling through the cracks lies squarely with the doctors who are failing to refer their patients to cardiac rehab. Continue reading

Downplaying symptoms: just pretend it’s NOT a heart attack

30 Nov

by Carolyn Thomas  @HeartSisters

When a blockage or spasm in one or more of your coronary arteries stops allowing freshly oxygenated blood to feed your heart muscle, a heart attack can happen. The faster that you can access emergency treatment to address that culprit artery, the better your chance of survival.  The period of time between your first symptoms and actively getting the help you need can be divided into three phases:

  1. decision time - the period from the first onset of acute symptoms to the decision to seek care (for example, calling 911)
  2. transport time - the period from the decision to seek care to arrival at the Emergency Department
  3. therapy timethe period from arrival at the Emergency Department to the start of medical treatment

Only the first phase is the one you have complete control over. So don’t blow it.

Continue reading

Let’s all play Chronic Illness Bingo!

23 Nov

by Carolyn Thomas    @HeartSisters

So far, I’ve heard well-meaning but uninformed people say just about every one of these “helpful” things – so I could pretty darned quickly fill out my own Bingo card. How about you?
Continue reading

Words matter when we describe our heart attack symptoms

16 Nov

by Carolyn Thomas     @HeartSisters

When I interviewed Dr. Catherine Kreatsoulas* about the research paper she presented last month in Vancouver at the Canadian Cardiovascular Congress(1), she mentioned her previous heart study that caught my attention.

I was surprised by her explanation from that earlier research on how some women describe their chest pain during a heart attack (2), as she told me:  .   .
Continue reading

Flexible restraint: it’s what’s missing from all fad diets

9 Nov

by Carolyn Thomas    @HeartSisters

My long ago high school years were spent at Mount Mary Immaculate Academy, a convent boarding school up on the mountain overlooking Hamilton, Ontario. (Keep in mind, of course, that I’m using the Ontario definition of the word “mountain”, and not the more scenic, snow-capped, high-altitude British Columbia definition of something that actually looks like a real mountain out here).

But I digress . . .  Our Mount Mary classmates included a significant number of “Spanish girls”. These were the exotic international boarders from Mexico or Guatemala or other Spanish-speaking nations whose wealthy parents had sent their daughters north to Canada for a year or two of boarding school to help perfect their English. Our Spanish girls needed to become fluently bilingual in time for their über-extravagant celebrations back home called the quinceañera, a girl’s traditional fifteenth birthday party to mark the important passage to womanhood.

Skinny or pudgy, every Spanish girl was obsessed about her weight. They talked non-stop about dieting as the year-long countdowns to their quinceañera parties began. And whenever our Spanish girls were even remotely upset with their Canadian dormitory mates for any reason at all, the worst possible insult they could spit out at us was the only Spanish word I knew back then:

“Gorda!”

Fat.

And that’s about the time I started dieting.

Continue reading

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