Your Heart, Your Health: two hours in one fantastic picture

by Carolyn Thomas    @HeartSisters

What you’re looking at is called a graphic recording. It’s live visual notetaking of one presentation – drawn by Vancouver illustrator Sam Bradd. As Sam explains, this kind of on-the-spot graphic recording “helps people remember and care about ideas. It supports interaction, reflection, and seeing the next steps.”  When I spoke recently at the public panel discussion event called Your Heart, Your Health hosted by Vancouver Coastal Health Research Institute, Sam started the evening up near the stage with a blank page about 4’x8′ wide.  By the end of the evening, we had what you see here!

Afterwards, I loved being described by event organizers as aknowledge translator along with Sam for our roles both during this presentation on women’s heart health as well as in the ongoing work we do with patients.

Vancouver-based speakers on this panel about women and heart disease included cardiologists Dr. Margot Davis and Dr. Tara Sedlak, and epidemiologist Dr. Mona Izadnegahdar. Our panel moderator was cardiologist Dr. Jacqueline Saw.

For highlights of this important free public event, read Empowerment Comes From Knowledge at Your Heart, Your Health. For example:

“The talk not only brought together four of Vancouver’s leading specialists in women’s health and cardiology to share their wealth of knowledge, but it also enlisted the help of patient advocate Carolyn Thomas and graphic facilitator Sam Bradd as knowledge translators who helped the audience understand the information being given and how it may affect or help patients.

“Thomas took the health research that had been presented and translated it into something personal.

“In Thomas, the audience could see themselves, their mother, or another loved one; her story made the day’s information more relatable, understandable, and impactful.”

While we were speaking onstage, Sam was creating a high-level visual summary of our presentation with built-in citations, putting our talk into permanent pictures. He explained:

“These images take on a life of their own once the event is over. They’re hung up in hallways to spark conversations, shared on social media, and printed in reports about findings. All of these ways affect patients.”

Knowledge translation is important to Sam Bradd. He sees his role as helping to create an ongoing conversation between researchers and their communities.

He puts dense academic information into plain language, and creates context that can be used along with primary-source data like graphs and charts to tell a complete story.

“No one likes to be talked ‘at’ about their health. As a patient, I want information about my health care so I can make the best decisions. Knowledge translation is a tool for ensuring patient voices inform researchers, and that good research gets into the hands of people who need it.

“Any publicly funded research should be accessible to the public, and knowledge translation tools – like graphic recording – help with dissemination.”

 At the end of our presentations, event organizers (and Sam’s graphic recording) summed up their Top 5 Things We Learned at Your Heart, Your Health:

  1. Breast cancer treatments are very damaging to the heart and breast cancer survivors are three times more likely to be hospitalized for heart disease. Survivors need to pay special attention to heart health. – Dr. Margot Davis
  2. Women can reduce their risk of heart disease by 90% by eating well, controlling cholesterol, getting active, managing their blood pressure, maintaining a healthy weight, reducing blood sugar and not smoking – Dr. Mona Izadnegahdar
  3. Heart disease is the number one killer of women. It kills more women than all cancers combined. – Dr. Jacqueline Saw
  4. Cholesterol plaque is not present in 20 to 30 per cent of women who have had a heart attack, so they are often told that they’re fine. They aren’t. They may have an artery tear, spasms or small vessel disease, which may bring serious health problems.  – Dr. Tara Sedlak
  5. Treatment seeking delay behavior is common among women. Women put off their own needs and don’t want to “bother” anyone with their health problems, so they put self-care last. – Carolyn Thomas

Q: Do you think it’s true that ‘a picture’s worth a thousand words’?

See also:



5 thoughts on “Your Heart, Your Health: two hours in one fantastic picture

  1. Great Article! Major risk factors for cardiovascular disease include cigarette smoking, high blood pressure, high cholesterol/triglycerides, diabetes mellitus, obesity, sedentary lifestyle, and poor nutrition.

    Liked by 1 person

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