85% of hospital admissions for chest pain are NOT heart attack

18 Jan

by Carolyn Thomas    @HeartSisters

“I was asleep and my symptoms woke me up. I had several simultaneous symptoms, but the first one seemed to be central chest pain. It wasn’t sharp or crushing or burning, more like a dull pressure. The pain radiated down my left arm and up into my neck and jaw. I had cold sweats, and I felt nauseated.”

Laura Haywood-Cory, age 41, heart attack, six stents

Researchers tell us that over 90% of us already know that chest pain like Laura’s could be a symptom of what doctors call Acute Myocardial Infarction (AMI – or heart attack) or Acute Coronary Syndrome (any condition brought on by sudden reduced blood flow to the heart muscle).  So it may not surprise you to learn that chest pain is the main reason that over 6 million people rush to the Emergency Departments of North American hospitals each year. These visits also represent a whopping 25% of all hospital admissions – yet 85% of these admissions do NOT turn out to be heart-related at allContinue reading

Should you bring that list of questions to your doctor?

11 Jan

by Carolyn Thomas  ♥  @HeartSisters

In a recent essay published in the New England Journal of Medicine, Dr. Suzanne Koven recalls many conversations she had with her father (like her, a physician) in which he loved to reminisce about his own long career in medicine. But there’s one reminiscence she still bristles at, as she explains(1):

“The story was about ladies – always they were ‘ladies’ – and something he called la maladie du petit papier: ‘the disease of the little paper.’

“They would come to his office and withdraw from their purses tiny pieces of paper that unfolded into large sheets on which they’d written long lists of medical complaints. ‘You know what I did then?’ Dad asked. I did, but I let him tell me again anyway. ‘I’d listen to each symptom carefully, and say ‘yes’ or ‘I see’. 

“That’s all. And when a lady finally reached the end of her list, she would say: ‘Oh doctor, I feel so much better!’

“The point is, all those ladies needed was someone to listen.”

The notion that whatever was bothering these silly ladies was all in their heads was once a long held truism within the medical profession.  Continue reading

The Sitting-Rising Test: what’s your score?

4 Jan

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by Carolyn Thomas    @HeartSisters

Back when I was a run leader at the Y Marathon Running Clinic, we’d have an overflow crop of eager new participants at our first Sunday morning run of each New Year. Some even told me that this was finally going to be the year in which they quit smoking, lost 30 pounds, and ran a marathon! “Pick one!” was my pragmatic response to such announcements . . .     Continue reading

A year in review: Top 10 Heart Sisters posts in 2014

28 Dec

by Carolyn Thomas @HeartSisters

2014It’s that time again, when navel-gazing pundits everywhere compile their Best Of or Top 10 lists of movies, political stories, books or bloopers for the year that’s just about to slip away. Same here at Heart Sisters.  So let’s take a nostalgic look backwards today at 2014, at what I like to describe as “cardiac rehab for my brain”. This blog was viewed about 900,000 times in 2014. My WordPress helper monkeys behind the scenes tell me that if this were an exhibit at the Louvre Museum, it would take about 39 days for that many people to see it!  Grand total of Heart Sisters views is over 2 million from readers in 190 countries since I launched this site back in 2009.   Continue reading

Size matters – but not in coronary artery blockages

21 Dec

by Carolyn Thomas      @HeartSisters

It’s not about your cholesterol numbers, and it’s not even about big fat blockages clogging up your coronary arteries. Did you know that inflammation is likely the culprit in most heart disease diagnoses? As cardiologist Dr. John Mandrola neatly describes it:

“Heart disease is about inflammation.  The same mechanisms that cause the throat to swell from an infection, the skin to redden after an insect bite, and a scar to form after a cut are what cause heart problems.”

Studies continue to show demonstrable links between heart disease and other inflammatory conditions.
Continue reading

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

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