Is coronary microvascular disease serious? Is the Pope Catholic?

22 Oct

by Carolyn Thomas    @HeartSisters

It’s time for physicians to stop telling patients that a diagnosis of coronary microvascular disease (MVD) is no big deal. Or alternatively, to accept that the diagnosis is real in the first place. As one of my blog readers learned to her horror, this awareness is not yet universal. When she asked her own physician, for example, if her debilitating cardiac symptoms might be due to coronary microvascular disease, he replied: “I don’t believe in microvascular disease!” – as if they’d been discussing the damned Tooth Fairy.

But here’s how Dr. Stacey Rosen, a cardiologist and spokeswoman for the American Heart Association’s Go Red For Women campaign, answered a question about microvascular disease in the New York Times recently:

Q: “I have been diagnosed with microvascular heart disease, which I was told mostly affects women and is not considered serious in and of itself. How long can it exist before it turns into serious heart disease?”

A:  “MVD can lead to heart attacks, heart failure and death. It’s serious.” Continue reading

Dear Carolyn: “My husband’s heart attack was treated differently than mine”

15 Oct

by Carolyn Thomas    @HeartSisters

As I’ve repeatedly insisted, my Heart Sisters blog readers are the smartest, kindest, sharpest and best-looking readers out there in the blogosphere.  As part of my Dear Carolyn series of posts featuring my readers’ unique stories about becoming a heart patient, this one involves a plot twist that, sadly, sounds maddeningly familiar.

Today’s Dear Carolyn tale focuses on one of my favourite themes in women’s heart health: being misdiagnosed with acid reflux during a heart attack, and it stars my loyal reader, Kathleen: Continue reading

Life after heart attack if you’re a Type A

8 Oct

by Carolyn Thomas  ♥  @HeartSisters

Shortly after my heart attack, while I was lying around at home on the big red chair wondering when I was ever going to feel like my old self, my real self, my fun self again, I went online to seek help from a cardiac support group I’d just discovered (the WomenHeart online community at Inspire).  All I had to do was type in the question “Does anybody else out there experience this?” and I knew that many of the 32,000+ other women members living with heart disease would have an answer, a handy tip or just some virtual understanding for me.

What was happening to me? I had turned into a person I no longer recognized. That person I used to be – the one who was the last to leave any party, the one everybody else could count on, the one who thrived on juggling multiple deadlines with ease – seemed to have disappeared. How could I get her back?  Ongoing cardiac symptoms and an as-yet-undiagnosed coronary microvascular disorder meant a much slower pace that I did not like one bit. What should I be doing to speed up this annoyingly slow recovery business? I posed these questions to my online group, and among many replies, this one arrived from an anonymous sisterly soul who, like me, had been going through much the same awkward transition. A self-described recovering Type A personality, she wrote me the following:  Continue reading

The most beautiful 5 minutes and 22 seconds you’ll spend today…

1 Oct

The most beautiful five minutes and 22 seconds you will spend today. . .  Thank you to Sue Robins (@suerobinsyvr), Nancy Stordahl (@nancyspoint) and many others who have recommended this to me. A conscious break like this is especially important to the freshly-diagnosed heart patient – who can often feel overwhelmed by pessimism and fear.  Continue reading

Dear Carolyn: “I had both acid reflux and a heart attack at the same time!”

24 Sep

by Carolyn Thomas  ♥  @HeartSisters

As I’ve repeatedly insisted, my Heart Sisters blog readers are the smartest, kindest, sharpest and best-looking readers out there in the blogosphere. . .  Today starts a series of Dear Carolyn posts starring my readers, each of whom has contacted me over the years to share, in her own words, the unique story of how she became a heart patient. Most of these, as you’ll discover if you keep up with this series, involve an “aha!” moment, or a plot twist that I didn’t see coming, or a lesson that just strikes me as downright useful for other women to know. And if you too have a personal heart story you think needs to be shared with the world (or at least the part of our world reading Heart Sisters each week), please share yours by contacting me here.

Today’s tale focuses on one of my favourite themes in women’s heart health: it’s possible to have both acid reflux (or any other chronic condition) AND a heart condition all at the same time. It’s from Debbie Orth, who lives near Cleveland, Ohio. (That’s Debbie in olive green at the centre of the photo above, having fun on a family cruise while celebrating her parents’ 50th wedding anniversary, just seven months post-heart attack!) Continue reading