Year in review: top 10 Heart Sisters posts for 2011

by Carolyn Thomas

It’s that time again, when navel-gazing pundits everywhere compile their Best Of or Top 10 lists for the year that’s just about to slip away.  Same here at Heart Sisters!  So let’s take a nostalgic look backwards today at what I like to describe as this “cardiac rehab for my brain” – and why almost 280,000 people like you have visited this site since its launch.

I wish a very Happy New Year to my readers, especially to those of you who choose to share what you like here with your colleagues, families or your health care professionals, to my loyal subscribers, to those of you who have generously shared your heartfelt, inspiring and sometimes very entertaining personal comments here, and particularly to all women living with heart disease. You are not alone.

Now here’s our Top 10 list of the most widely-read Heart Sisters posts of 2011:   

1.  How Does It Really Feel to Have a Heart Attack? Women Survivors Tell Their Stories  (this article tops the list every year, attracting three times more readers on average than the second most-popular post).

2.  Heart Disease: Which Countries Have the Highest and Lowest Rates? (a consistently popular topic, garnering twice as many readers as the #3 post on this list)

3.  Heart Attack – or an Attack of Heartburn?

4.  Am I Having a Heart Attack? 

5.  How Women Can Have Heart Attacks Without Having Blocked Arteries  (this article focuses on diagnoses like my own Inoperable Coronary Microvascular Disease, and it may help to explain why, as the New England Journal of Medicine reported, women under the age of 55 are SEVEN TIMES  more likely to be misdiagnosed in the middle of a cardiac event and sent home from the E.R. compared to our male counterparts presenting with identical symptoms)

6.   The Christmas Truce – 1914  (the December popularity of this non-heart-related post boosts traffic for this touching true World War 1 story)

7.   My Favourite Recipe for Heart-Healthy Chocolate Fudge Brownies  (need I say more?)

8.   When Your Artery Tears: Spontaneous Coronary Artery Dissection  (SCAD is a rare and deadly heart condition, mostly seen in young healthy women with no risk factors, and it’s usually fatal. This year saw an unusual flurry of public and media interest in SCAD when Mayo Clinic announced plans for two new research studies, thanks entirely to the perseverance of SCAD survivors who went online for support)

9.   Melissa Mia Hall, Who Couldn’t Afford Health Insurance, Dies of Heart Attack  (in my opinion, this tragic story sums up everything that’s broken in the American health care system)

10.  Stupid Things that Doctors Say to Heart Patients   (these comments would be hilariously funny if they weren’t absolutely true real-life statements actually delivered to these 33 female survivors!)

♥   ♥    ♥

One of the surprisingly fabulous things about this site is actually my WordPress stats page. It’s a behind-the-scenes web tool that lets me track which articles you are reading most often, which external links are being clicked while you’re reading those articles, and even what search words or phrases you’ve typed into Google to land here in the first place.

For example, the busiest traffic day of 2011 was Monday, November 14th with 1,134 visitors, and the most popular post that day was, as usual, How Does It Really Feel to Have a Heart Attack? Women Survivors Tell Their Stories. (This day’s stats, by the way, compare with the busiest day of 2010 with just 464 visitors. Things seem to be getting busier around here!)

Heart Sisters was viewed by about 150,000 visitors last year. If this site were an exhibit at the Louvre Museum, it would take over six days for that many people to see it.

How did the visitors find Heart Sisters? The top referrers in 2011 were:

In 2011, there were 89 new posts written, growing the total archive of Heart Sisters to 346 posts. There were 290 pictures uploaded here – that’s about six images per week (not all of which you actually see – I usually play around with a number of images before deciding on just the perfect one for each essay!)

Hundreds of people now follow Heart Sisters on Twitter each day, repost my links on their Facebook sites, or subscribe via email to receive updates on new postings (you can do this, too, by clicking on the upper right sidebar’s Follow Heart Sisters button!)

January 2011 started with a bang when this site was accredited with Health On The Net Code certification, a European-based international designation that ensures “trustworthy health information online” for medical and health websites that qualify.

In July, I installed a Clustrmap widget on this site (scroll down to the bottom left corner of this page to see it) that lights up a map of the world every single day with its little red dots, each one representing another real-time Heart Sisters visitor.  So far, we have tracked site visitors from 133 countries. Truly amazing!

A record number of Heart Sisters essays have also been picked up and republished this past year by other much larger websites like Dr. Kevin Pho‘s medical site, KevinMD:

The following essays were also included by Dr. Val Jones in her Grand Rounds columns on BetterHealth:

And these essays were re-published as guest posts this past year on a variety of international health websites:

A first for me this year was gaining media accreditation to attend the 64th Annual Canadian Cardiovascular Congress in beautiful Vancouver in order to cover the proceedings with a press pass. I was ultimately dismayed to learn, however, that of the 700+ scientific papers presented at this conference, I could count on one hand those that were even remotely involved in women’s heart disease. As one of my Heart Sisters readers succinctly commented in response to my coverage:

“We really DON’T need yet another study that basically comes down to: ‘Well, sucks to be female. Better luck next life!’ – do we?”

I wrote about my conference experiences in:

Heart Sisters was in the news in 2011, too!  More magazine included me in its  February list called Health Bloggers You’ll Love, featuring four Canadian women who have launched health-related websites. Wichita Public Radio KMUW interviewed me for Go Red For Women Day on February 4th.  My op ed piece called Myths Endure About Women and Heart Attacks was published in the Victoria Times Colonist that month, too. And in March, Catherine Morgan of Blogher interviewed me for a feature called Are Women Left Behind in Heart Disease Research?

I am unapologetically sappy over your ongoing interest in my Heart Sisters work on the important subject of women and heart disease – our #1 killer. Thank you once again, and Happy 2012 to you.


5 thoughts on “Year in review: top 10 Heart Sisters posts for 2011

  1. Pingback: Articles On Teaching
  2. Congratulations on all of your accomplishments in 2011, Carolyn. You are a wonderful writer and should be recognized for all that you do. Wishing you continued success in 2012! Much thanks for your support! -YHS


    1. Thanks so much for your kind comment. I encourage ALL heart attack survivors to participate in your study at Yale University – to help determine why people wait so long even in mid-heart attack before seeking medical help.

      Keep up the good work and Happy New Year!


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