Post-hospital syndrome, revisited

22 Apr

by Carolyn Thomas     @HeartSisters      April 22, 2018

What does jet lag have in common with being discharged home following a hospital stay? After Yale cardiologist Dr. Harlan Krumholz returned from an overseas trip suffering from a particularly bad case of jet lag, he described the similarities like this:

“People were talking to me, but I couldn’t concentrate. I was a little clumsy. I could have fallen. I realized that I felt just like my hospital patients do when they go home.”

He recognized that many hospital stays can actually confer jet lag-type disabilities. In his article published in the New England Journal of Medicine, Dr. Krumholz dubbed this post-hospital discharge distress post-hospital syndrome. (1)
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Tin Heart: poems for a heart transplant

15 Apr

by Carolyn Thomas     @HeartSisters      April 15, 2018

Today, I have a magical little gift to share with you. It’s not a gift that will arrive with tissue paper and a satin bow in time for your birthday, but one that landed in my own mailbox recently. The gift filled me with awe and gratitude, and also a need to share it with other heart patients and those who love them.

The gift is a collection of poetry called Tin Heart (Corazón de Hojalata) by Margarita Saona, translated from Spanish by Marco Dorfsman, and published in 2017. But Margarita’s not your average poet. In January of 2017, she underwent a heart transplant procedure – and that’s what she writes about.  Continue reading

What I wish I’d known before my hospital discharge

8 Apr

by Carolyn Thomas     @HeartSisters      April 8, 2018

I was feeling dead chuffed (as my UK friends would say) to be published again in the British Medical Journal (BMJ) recently.(1)  As part of their What Your Patient Is Thinking series, my guest essay includes what I now wish I’d known before being sent home from the Cardiac Care Unit following my heart attack diagnosis and treatment.  

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Open wide! Cardiac symptoms diagnosed in the dental chair

1 Apr

by Carolyn Thomas  @HeartSisters  ♥  April 1, 2018

Mary Kay Osborne is a heart patient from Hammondsport, New York. She replied recently to my blog post about early heart attack warning symptoms, and mentioned something that snagged my attention. That post had listed “jaw or teeth pain” as one of several possible early cardiac warning signs – especially in women’s heart attacks, as quoted in Dr. Sheila O’Keefe-McCarthy’s research. Mary Kay replied that she had experienced a number of early warning signs before her first coronary stent was implanted at age 57, including pain in her jaw and teeth:
“I started experiencing symptoms almost eight months before I suspected they were signs of heart issues. The fatigue and anxiety were terrible. And I began having a lot of pain in my jaw and teeth. I had a couple of teeth extracted that I don’t think I needed pulled. My dentist never told me there was an infection – just that they needed to be pulled. But afterwards, I still had pain in the area of the tooth extractions, like phantom pains. The emotional stress was terrible.”  ……

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Just shut up and listen!

25 Mar

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by Carolyn Thomas    @HeartSisters    March 25, 2018

A Heart Sisters article that I first ran here five years ago is called When Are Cardiologists Going to Start Talking About Depression? 

As you can imagine, it’s a serious subject. And it’s an important subject, given how common – yet pervasively overlooked – the situational depression associated with heart disease is. A freshly-diagnosed heart patient who becomes depressed is not only miserable, but this is a person who’s significantly less likely to take meds, exercise, eat heart-healthy foods, quit smoking, follow medical instructions – and is generally at significant risk for poor cardiac outcomes.

Dozens of my readers shared their moving and vulnerable stories about their experiences in response to this post. For example, this comment from a reader named Christie, sent to me nine days after her husband survived a heart attack:  Continue reading