Six lessons Emmi learned from her Hollywood Heart Attack

28 May

by Carolyn Thomas  ♥  @HeartSisters

Emmi S. Herman is the mother of three millennials and grandmother of two perfect grandchildren. As the grandmother of one perfect child (our adorable Everly Rose), I can relate. I can especially relate to her because, like Emmi, I too survived what doctors call the “widow maker” heart attack (a misnomer that really needs fixing given how many women I know who have survived it. Physicians don’t, for example, call this serious cardiac event the “widower” maker, do they?)  Emmi is a children’s book author with expertise in early literacy skills. When not writing copy at her day job or at work on a memoir about her sister, she is in her car somewhere between New York and New Jersey. Here’s how she describes the six important lessons she learned about having a heart attack.  Continue reading

European women face the same cardiac gender gap we do

21 May

by Carolyn Thomas    @HeartSisters

I’m interested in women’s heart health, and because my Heart Sisters blog readers come from all parts of the world (in 190 countries at last count), that interest isn’t aimed only at women’s shared experiences here in North America where I live. As the World Heart Federation tells us, heart disease is the #1 global health threat to women everywhere on the planet.

Researchers know that the cardiac gender gap we worry about here is distressingly similar to what women around the world face, too. Here’s how one European cardiologist describes how she views this gap for the women where she lives:  Continue reading

A Mother’s Day without my mother

14 May

by Carolyn Thomas    @HeartSisters

Based on a post originally published here on May 13, 2012

As Christopher Buckley wrote in his memoir, Losing Mum and Pup, when the last of your parents dies, you are an orphan. This is poignantly true if that parent is your mother.

“You lose the true keeper of your memories, your triumphs, your losses. Your mother is a scrapbook for all your enthusiasms. She is the one who validates and the one who shames, and when she’s gone, you are alone in a terrible way.”

This month marks both the occasion of my mother’s birthday (she would have turned 89 on May 7th, which was coincidentally the second birthday of Everly Rose, the adorable great-granddaughter whom she would never meet) and yet another Mother’s Day when I didn’t send my Mom a card and flowers. I’m getting used to that reality by now. She died five years ago on February 21st, 2012.  Continue reading

The “big disconnect” in women’s heart health

7 May

by Carolyn Thomas    @HeartSisters

hearts sunday_link_loveDr. Holly Andersen is a New York cardiologist who once told a Clinton Health Matters conference audience how frustrating it feels when she is able to impact only the women who come in to see her. She believes that increasing public awareness of heart disease can save lives, and this must start with women. Dr. Holly likes to say that “if you can educate a woman, you educate the family.” Here’s her sobering take on what she calls the “big disconnect” in women’s heart disease awareness, prevention and treatment: * Continue reading

Dear Cleveland Clinic: It’s food, not poison, for crying out loud!

30 Apr

Earth to Cleveland Clinic dietitians: please stop sharing your joyless, preachy, pinched-face, finger-wagging lectures about foods you consider to be evil. In a rush to convince the great unwashed out here to improve our daily diet, many so-called “experts” like you seem to believe that nagging and food-shaming are the most effective ways to change behaviour. Trust me, they are not.

Today, I offer two examples of dietary advice, one that I plan to not only ignore but publicly mock, as well as one terrific example (definitely not from Cleveland Clinic) that’s already printed and posted on my fridge door. Continue reading

I need a nap!

23 Apr

I was never a napper before my heart attack. Naps, I used to believe, were only for people like my Dad, whose custom was to doze off after lunch for half an hour or so on the LaZBoy in our farmhouse. But now, I love naps! And because I live with ongoing cardiac symptoms (thanks to a subsequent diagnosis of coronary microvascular disease), I need those naps. If I skip my daily afternoon nap, I pay for it later by feeling sick and shaky.

Author/napper Toni Bernhard recently described in her wonderful Psychology Today column why naps are so important:

“Most people who are chronically ill benefit from scheduling at least one rest period into their day because it helps keep symptoms from flaring.” 

Yet paradoxically, she also notes that taking a “time out” by pausing to rest can be one of the hardest challenges that chronically ill patients face. Continue reading