A year in review: top 10 Heart Sisters posts for 2012

by Carolyn Thomas     @HeartSisters

It’s that time again, when navel-gazing pundits everywhere compile their Best Of or Top 10 lists of movies, political stories, books or bloopers 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 over 690,000 people like you have visited this site since I launched it in 2009.

First, 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
  • my loyal blog subscribers and Twitter followers
  • those who have generously shared your heartfelt, inspiring and sometimes very entertaining personal comments here – I love them!
  • 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 2012:   

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

2.  Heart Disease: Which Countries Have the Highest and Lowest Rates? (a consistently popular topic, second place last year as well)

3.  Heart Attack – or an Attack of Heartburn? (self-explanatory)

4.  Am I Having a Heart Attack? (maybe you are!)

5.  How Women Can Have Heart Attacks Without Having Blocked Arteries (this article focuses on diagnoses like the spasm condition called Prinzmetal’s Variant Angina or 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 perennial December popularity of this non-heart-related article boosts traffic for this touching true World War 1 story)

7.   What Your Body Fat Really Looks Like (cringe-worthy MRI images of two women with very different body shapes might motivate you to push yourself away from that tray of Tim Hortons maple dips)

8.  How Soon Are Heart Patients Safely Fit to Fly? (is it just my imagination or are more of you planning flights this year?  – a big jump in readership this year for this 2010 article)

9.  How Women Can Tell If They’re Headed for a Heart Attack (a whopping 95% of us actually suspected that something was very wrong in the months leading up to our heart attacks; this post lists these early warning  “prodromal symptoms” as well as urgent signs that a heart attack might be imminent)

10.  When the Elephant in the Room Has No Smartphone  (after being awarded an ePatient Scholarship to attend Stanford University’s Medicine X conference in September, I attempted to explain to health tech start-up developers the difference between tech-savvy Quantified Selfers – and the “worried well” – who enthusiastically track all manner of truly personal data just because they can, and actual real live sick people coping with serious chronic disease)

♥   ♥    ♥

While they didn’t make the Top 10 list this year, I must include here the essays (here, here and here) that I wrote following my mother’s death in February – one of those profoundly important life events that author Rona Maynard describes like this:

“Despite our culture’s motherhood mystique, no rituals mark the psychological journey we daughters begin when our mothers die.”

♥   ♥    ♥

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 2012 was Wednesday, December 19th with 2,825 views, 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 the previous year (1,134). Things seem to be getting busier around here!

Heart Sisters was visited 420,000 times in 2012. The overwhelming majority of these visitors live in the United States, followed by the U.K., my home country of Canada, Australia, India, the Philippines, Ireland, Germany, South Africa and Malaysia. So far, we have tracked site visitors from 190 countries. Truly amazing! In fact, if this website were the country of Liechtenstein, it would take about eight years for that many people to see it. Or, as our WordPress helper-monkeys wrote to me:

“Your blog had more visits than a small country in Europe!”

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

In 2012, there were 101 new posts published here, growing the total archive of Heart Sisters articles to 447 articles.

Over 1,000 people now follow Heart Sisters on Twitter each day, repost my links on their Facebook sites, and about 500 of you subscribe via email to receive an update on each newly published article (you can do this, too, by clicking on the upper right sidebar’s Follow Heart Sisters button!) You can also subscribe to our new Heart Sisters free monthly newsletters, each of which features a specific theme on the general topic of women’s heart health.

A number of Heart Sisters articles have been picked up and republished this past year by other much larger health websites. For example:

Heart Sisters was in the news in 2012, too.

Media coverage kicked off with The Heart of the Matter – a Patient Focus feature in the January issue of the industry journal BioSupply Trends (see page 68). 

February is Heart Month and that means media interest, starting with the venerable women’s magazine Ladies Home Journal that wrote about me in a piece called Heartburn or a Heart Attack?  Then Denise Foley interviewed me for A Woman’s Heart, a comprehensive piece written for Diane magazine. And the month finished off with my misdiagnosis-and-survival story featured in When Doctors Make Bad Calls in The Globe and Mail.

In March, The Heart and Stroke Foundation ran What Women Survivors Want You to Know. I celebrated my April birthday along with the Big Boys from The Wall Street Journal in their health feature called Many People Ignore Signs, Delay Treatment of Heart Attack. And in July, I was interviewed for a two-part CBC-TV national news special report;  Hospital Food Lacks Proper Nutrition included a morning of humbling hilarity spent with their camera crew filming me cooking heart-healthy soup in my kitchen.

I also started an online Vimeo account this year to include film footage of my presentations on women’s heart disease. Here’s a short clip as an example.

I am unapologetically sappy over the ongoing interest both in my public presentations and in my Heart Sisters articles on the important subject of women and heart disease – our #1 killer.

Thank you once again, and Happy 2013 to you.



* Pope JH, Aufderheide TP, Ruthazer R, et al. Missed diagnoses of acute cardiac ischemia in the emergency department. N Engl J Med. 2000;342:1163-1170.


Q: Are you a regular visitor here, or a first-timer?

12 thoughts on “A year in review: top 10 Heart Sisters posts for 2012

  1. Hei Carolyn,

    You are doing a lot of work with this blog and I always learn interesting facts about the heart. Thank you for that.

    I wish you a Happy Year 2013 and a strong heart.


  2. Congratulations, Carolyn, on another productive year. I know I never miss a post. The word is getting out! Keep up the good work.


  3. Thank you, Carolyn, for creating and writing the BEST women’s heart blog in the WORLD! You are performing an incredibly valuable service to others ~ EVERY DAY!


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