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

The most dangerous kind of coronary artery blockage

16 Apr

by Carolyn Thomas    @HeartSisters

We used to hear coronary heart disease described as “hardening of the arteries”, or atherosclerosis. I pictured this as some kind of clogged drain under an old sink, plugged up with years of disgustingly hard gunk. But it turns out that only about three out of every 10 heart attacks are actually caused by this kind of hardened coronary artery blockage.

The rest of us can blame soft, vulnerable and unstable plaque within the walls of those arteries. This may also help to explain (as I’ve written about here and here) why you can have a “normal” cardiac test one month, and be back in hospital the following month with a heart attack. Here’s how that can sometimes happen, according to experts at the Texas Heart Institute: Continue reading

“Refrain from operating a chainsaw after your cardiac procedure”

9 Apr
As I love to keep saying, my Heart Sisters blog readers are the smartest and the funniest and the most resilient women out there – and remember that most of them are living with various levels of heart disease symptoms all while busy being smart and funny and resilient.
 
One such reader named Jennifer, who also lives with a thyroid condition called Graves Disease, wrote the comment below in response to my blog post about women’s heart clinics. Her hospital experience with the cardiology gender gap is maddeningly common (and yet another powerful argument for opening a women’s heart clinic in every hospital).

Continue reading

When the woman who won’t call 911 is your mother

2 Apr

by Carolyn Thomas    @HeartSisters

Cardiologists know that, when it comes to seeking emergency medical help while experiencing alarming cardiac symptoms, women can be surprisingly reluctant to call 911. As I’ve written about here, here and here, this is a puzzling phenomenon we call treatment-seeking delay behaviour. It turns out that some cardiologists have to worry not only about patients like this, but about their own mothers. Continue reading

Women’s heart disease: is it underdiagnosed, or misdiagnosed?

26 Mar

by Carolyn Thomas    @HeartSisters

Do you know the difference between a medical condition that’s underdiagnosed, and one that’s misdiagnosed? I thought you’d never ask. . .  Underdiagnosis is a failure to recognize or correctly diagnose a disease or condition, especially in a significant proportion of patients, as in: “Heart disease in women is still being underdiagnosed compared to our male counterparts.”(1) But misdiagnosis is an incorrect, partial or delayed diagnosis of one individual’s illness or other medical problem, as in: “I left the Emergency Department with a misdiagnosis of acid reflux despite my textbook heart attack symptoms of central chest pain, nausea, sweating and pain down my left arm.”

The trouble is this: the more that misdiagnosis happens to individual women, one after another, the more likely we are to continue seeing underdiagnosis of women heart patients as a whole. Thank you to these heart patients who shared their own experiences of surviving a misdiagnosis: Continue reading