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Is your doctor paying attention?

11 Feb

by Carolyn Thomas    @HeartSisters

When Mayo Clinic’s Dr. Mary O’Connor published her compelling essay called The Woman Patient: Is Her Voice Heard?“, she raised some frightening questions, particularly for those of us carrying the XX chromosomes.  Examples of what she calls the medical profession’s unconscious bias” against female patients include:

  • women are 22 times less likely to be referred for knee replacement surgery compared to men presenting with the same symptoms and diagnoses
  • girls on pediatric kidney transplant lists are 22% less likely to get a new kidney compared to boys
  • women in their 50s and younger are seven times more likely to be misdiagnosed and sent home from Emergency compared to their male counterparts of the same age presenting with comparable heart attack symptoms(1)

But perhaps the most disturbing lesson was the pervasive sense that somehow docs are just not getting it, and worse, that this “unconscious bias” is affecting medical decision-making – and even doctors’ ability to pay attention. Continue reading

When thyroid problems masquerade as heart disease

27 Jan

by Carolyn Thomas    @HeartSisters

I love a medical mystery that gets solved by a patient, don’t you? In May 2009, one of my regular readers – known to me and other readers here simply as JetGirl - experienced what she calls “classic heart attack symptoms” of very sudden onset, and sought help immediately at the Emergency Department of a Los Angeles hospital.  The 45-year old former airline pilot was released from hospital after a week’s stay in the Coronary Care Unit with a vague cardiac diagnosis of ischemia*.

Six months later, JetGirl once again experienced more cardiac symptoms including “massive chest pain” and shortness of breath.  This time, nothing was found.    Continue reading

Doc chat: in the cath lab with a “radial evangelist”

19 Jan

by Carolyn Thomas    @HeartSisters

Like most heart patients who get their blocked coronary arteries opened up (or revascularized) at Victoria’s Royal Jubilee Hospital, my stent was implanted by inserting a slim catheter into an artery in my wrist and threading it up, up, up into my heart, a procedure known in the cath labs of the world as a Transradial Intervention (TRI).

But if I had been in an American hospital, my cardiologist would have more than likely threaded that catheter through the larger femoral artery in my upper thigh instead of my wrist, despite growing evidence suggesting significantly safer results, less bleeding, fewer complications, superior outcomes, and resounding patient preference for the radial approach.(1) In fact, while cardiologists across Canada, Europe and Asia are moving towards using radial as a default access, American cardiologists lag behind. 

I just don’t get it. Canadian coronary arteries simply cannot be that much different from those of American heart patients. Continue reading

My blog post in the British Medical Journal!

14 Jan

Allow me to share with you this thrilling sight, dear heart sisters!  It’s the Twitter page of the British Medical Journal (BMJ) plus its Tweet about my BMJ blog post called Why Physicians Must Stop Saying: “We Are All Patients that was published today. 

A big “thank you” for this goes to Dave de Bronkart (some of you know him better as ePatient Dave). Dave is a sneaky sort of guy who, unbeknownst to me, sent the BMJ editors a link to my recent Heart Sisters post called “We Are All Patients.” No, You’re Not. The editors then contacted me to ask if I’d also write something for them, and here we are!

Can I just say – - – WOW!!      :-)

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