A year in review: Top 10 Heart Sisters posts in 2015

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 this website in 2015, at what I like to describe as “cardiac rehab for my brain”.   

But first, I wish a very Happy New Year to my readers, especially to:

  • those of you who choose to share what you read here with your colleagues, families or health care professionals
  • those who follow me on social media (including the hundreds of physicians who follow me on Twitter)
  • my blog subscribers (you can become one too by clicking on Sign Me Up! under Follow Heart Sisters on the right hand sidebar here – you’ll get free email notifications of each new post, and I’ll never do anything evil with your email info)
  • those who have generously shared your heartfelt, inspiring and so often entertaining personal comments here – I love hearing from you!
  • all women living with heart disease: you are not alone!


This blog was viewed about 3.6 million times in 2015, a whopping jump up from 930,000 views last year!  My WordPress helper monkeys behind the scenes tell me that if this blog were the Space Needle attraction in the nearby U.S. city of Seattle, it would take about four years for that many people to see it!

The grand total of Heart Sisters views is over 5.7 million since I launched this site back in 2009 (when it garnered about 27,000 views during that first year).

This is the 639th blog post I’ve published over the past six years. And now here’s that Top 10 list of the most widely read Heart Sisters articles during 2015:

1. How does it really feel to have a heart attack?  Women survivors answer that question  (Topping the list once again this year, this 2009 post – in which I interviewed dozens of heart attack survivors – attracted twice as many daily readers on average than the second most-popular post in 2015).

2.  Why does your arm hurt during a heart attack?  (This 2013 post starts with an incomprehensible response of gobbledygook from a HealthTap physician to a heart patient’s question, and ends with my patient-friendly, jargon-free translation).

3. 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).

4.  When chest pain is “just” costochondritis  (Many female heart patients become familiar with the word costochondritis only while being misdiagnosed with this painful condition during an actual cardiac event).

5.  A cardiologist’s advice on how to use this “wonder drug”  (If you carry nitroglycerin for the chest pain of angina as many heart patients do, you must read the common-sense words of iconic cardiologist Dr. Bernard Lown)

6.  85% of all chest pain admissions to hospital are NOT heart attack  (Ironically, one of my readers told me that when he Googled the heart attack symptoms “chest pain, nausea, sweating and left arm pain”, this post of mine came up #3 in the search results!)

7.  Misdiagnosed: coronary microvascular disease and spasm pain  (This 2012 article about non-obstructive small vessel disease has continued to attract reader comments from women living with this often-misunderstood cardiac condition – comments that are often far more interesting than my original post was!)

8. When you know more than your doctors about your diagnosis  Researcher Dr. Rosamund Snow found surprising pushback from physicians in her controversial study published in The British Medical Journal (BMJ), as I quoted here: Patients who have in-depth knowledge of their condition encounter problems when their expertise is seen as inappropriate in standard healthcare interactions.”

9. Post-Traumatic Growth: how a crisis makes life better – or NOT  (The idea that great good can come from great suffering is increasingly popular – just not in my house)

10. The surprising reasons heart patients don’t go to cardiac rehab (This is one of a number of articles I’ve written here and here, for example, based on truly appalling results of a 2012 American Heart Association study which revealed that only about 20% of all eligible heart patients are being referred by their cardiologists to cardiac rehabilitation programs.  As I like to do when trying to figure out something that makes no sense to me, I asked other women living with heart disease about their own experience going – or not going – to cardiac rehab).

Other 2015 stats tidbits from my WordPress helper monkeys about this site include:

Most Visitor Traffic in One Day of 2015: December 28th with 13,239 views. Most of these people were here to read my article on women’s heart attack symptoms (see #1 above).

My visitors came from 190 countries. By far, most of my readers live in the U.S.A. – five times more than in the second place U.K.  Canadians were in third place, followed by Australia, India, South Africa, Ireland, New Zealand, Philippines, and Singapore.

How my blog readers found me: most often by doing internet searches, almost all of them via Google. The words most frequently Googled this year: “heart attack arm pain” – first time ever that the usual “heart attack signs for women” were not the most common search terms.  In 2015, more people landed here by following links posted on Facebook, beating out last year’s top referring site, Twitter (although, conversely, 20 times more posts were then shared by my readers to their Twitter followers than to their Facebook friends). New to that list of top referring sites this year were informationvine.com, cracked.com and wow.com.

Did somebody mention guest posts?  A number of Heart Sisters articles were picked up and republished as guest posts this past year by other websites. These include:

Heart Sisters in the media! In 2015, I was interviewed for the following media stories:

Heart Bypass Surgery: What Women Should Know – US News, January 23, 2015

Women’s Health and Misdiagnosis – CKNW radio, January 23, 2015 (16 minute interview with host Simi Sara)

Heart Attack Survivor Aims to Arm Women With Education – Oak Bay News, February 6, 2015

Cardiac Rehab: Boosting Your Heart RecoveryUS News, March 27, 2015

Weekend Morning interviewCBC Radio interview with host Terry MacLeod, May 17, 2015

Heartwarming Talk Returns To Monterey Centre – Oak Bay News, May 21, 2015

Empowerment Comes From Knowledge At ‘Your Heart, Your Health’ – Vancouver Coastal Health Research Institute, May 25, 2015 (photo below)

Screen Shot 2015-06-05 at 2.28.03 PM


Thanks so much, dear readers, for your support and interest in what I’ve been writing about here, and best wishes to you for good health and many happy adventures in 2016 . . .






2 thoughts on “A year in review: Top 10 Heart Sisters posts in 2015

  1. You are a force to be reckoned with, dear Heart Sister! Excellent information provided in understandable language with the stamp of experience and empathy firmly sealed on every piece!

    Keep up your amazing work; you are a true survivor who makes a difference! Xxoo

    Liked by 1 person

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