There are patients. And then there are patients.
Let’s consider, for example, two friends of about the same age, same height, same size, same socioeconomic demographic – each one (in an amazingly freakish coincidence) a survivor of a similarly severe heart attack, admitted to the same hospital on the same day. Let’s call these two made-up examples Patient A and Patient B.
Patient A is diagnosed promptly in mid-heart attack, treated appropriately, recovers well, suffers very little if any lasting heart muscle damage, completes a program of supervised cardiac rehabilitation, is surrounded by supportive family and friends, and is happily back at work and hosting Sunday dinners within a few short weeks of recuperation.
Patient B, on the other hand, experiences complications during her hospitalization, recuperation takes far longer than expected, repeat procedures are required, her cardiac symptoms worsen, she suffers longterm debilitating consequences, and is never able to return to work.
Yet despite these profound differences, physicians would still describe both of these women with the same all-inclusive descriptor, “myocardial infarction” (heart attack). Continue reading