The Martha and Carolyn Show!

by Carolyn Thomas    @HeartSisters

screen-shot-2017-01-14-at-7-00-02-amDr. Martha Gulati is an internationally recognized expert on women’s heart disease. She’s Professor of Medicine and Chief of Cardiology at The University of Arizona in Phoenix, where she is creating a centre specifically for Women’s Cardiovascular Health. The best-selling co-author with Sherry Torkos of the book, Saving Women’s Hearts, Dr. Martha is also the Editor-in-Chief of the American College of Cardiology’s CardioSmart, a Scientific Advisory Board member of WomenHeart: The National Coalition for Women with Heart Disease, and a board member of the American Society of Preventive Cardiology, the Phoenix American Heart Association and other notable organizations.

She is, in short, one of the rock stars of women’s cardiology.

And like me, she’s also a proud Canadian. Dr. Martha is a graduate of McMaster University and the University of Toronto medical school. Although we’d been following each other on social media for years, we’d never met in person until she invited me to speak at the 2015 medical conference she was helping to organize at Mayo Clinic (along with Drs. Sharonne Hayes and Sharon Mulvagh).  The name of what would become an annual cardiology conference at Mayo was a mouthful: Heart Disease in Women: A New Era of Understanding, Recognition, Prevention, Diagnosis and Treatment.
When they first invited me to speak, she and Dr. Sharon (another Canuck!) told me that they needed more Canadian content on their faculty for the event – and really, can you ever have enough CanCon at an event?  😉
At that Mayo Clinic conference, I was able to witness firsthand Dr. Martha’s knowledge, passion and larger-than-life personality, onstage and off (complete with her trademark red high heels). Following my presentation, she suggested that someday she should come up here to the west coast of Canada so that she and I could do a talk on women’s heart health together. I thought she was just being nice. But it turns out she wasn’t kidding. . .
On Tuesday, February 28th, this is really happening!
We're in the news!
         We’re in the news!           Dr. Martha’s coming all the way from Arizona to speak at my annual Heart Month presentation called Heart-Smart Women. What I’m now affectionately calling The Martha and Carolyn Show is taking place from 10-11:30 a.m. at the Monterey Centre here in Victoria, B.C. – where we’ve already had to move our venue from my usual Monterey Centre classroom to the auditorium in order to accommodate my special rock star guest. This free 90-minute presentation on women’s heart health begins with my own story of misdiagnosis and survival, followed by some scary research findings on women’s “treatment-seeking delay behaviour” (that’s our dangerous reluctance to make a fuss –  yes, even in mid-heart attack). Then you’ll learn the answers to Dr. Martha’s trick question: “Is there really a sex difference in heart disease?” – which she describes as “funny and lighthearted – but with important points!” and finally, an overview of cardiac risk factors (including some surprising risks unique to women) and how to address those risks to reduce your own chances of a heart disease diagnosis.
In the landmark published report that Dr. Martha co-authored last year called Focused Cardiovascular Care for Women, the conclusions are grim:
“The medical community in general and women specifically lack information on cardiovascular health and disease in women. This ignorance makes it less likely that women will receive guidance on:
  • preventing heart disease
  • preventive strategies and referral for needed diagnostic testing
  • treatment
  • cardiac rehabilitation

“The public health cost of misdiagnosed or undiagnosed cardiac disease in women is significant.”

So if you’re lucky enough to be already signed up for our presentation here in Victoria on February 28th, you’ll not only learn a lot, but you will understand firsthand how thrilling it feels for me to have this opportunity to reunite with Dr. Martha – and right in my own backyard this time. Find out how to reserve your spot to attend Heart-Smart Women: All About Women and Heart Disease.

Screen Shot 2018-06-22 at 1.03.42 PM.

UPDATE FEBRUARY 28th, 2017: What a morning! Our Heart-Smart Women in Victoria was a terrific event, full with a waiting list. Dr. Martha was a huge hit (and our audience was especially intrigued by her spectacular heart stilettos!). She is so knowledgeable, skilled, funny, and wise – exactly the kind of cardiologist women want to know is in our corner, working hard to educate both women and her cardiology colleagues about women’s unique heart disease experiences. And it looks like she had a good time in our beautiful city, too, as evidenced via Twitter later that day:



Q: What questions about women’s heart health would you ask Dr. Martha if you were in our audience?

CAROLYN’S NOTE: Dr. Martha Gulati graciously offered to write the foreword to my new book, “A Woman’s Guide to Living with Heart Disease (Johns Hopkins University Press, November 2017).  I cried when I first read it – it is so beautiful!  Thank you, Dr. Martha!

See also:

20 thoughts on “The Martha and Carolyn Show!

  1. Hi Carolyn,

    Can you videotape the presentation for those of us that cannot attend? Or if you do a webinar or facetime it or whatever, can it be saved so we can access it at another time?

    My question would be…as I await complete diagnosis following a year of feeling yucky, clear arteries, and an MI during my heart cath, and am doing many tests and cardiac rehab and meds, looking toward micro vascular disease, spasms, and/or endothelial dysfunction, can my current state of health reverse or is it bound to progress? Is heart failure or further events always the end result? For those of us in the heart disease minority with seemingly clear arteries, good cholesterol, non diabetic, previously very active, can an extremely nutritious diet reverse what is happening?

    Thank you so much for all that you do!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I would like to know why statins don’t come with a black box warning that taking them will eventually lead to diabetes. When you enter into your PCP’s office, they continually promote everyone to be on statins. I’ve been on statins for years and now my PCP seemed happy to say you are now a diabetic, which I am not accepting. I also have hypothyroidism, but he ignores my symptons and only sees the bogus lab number. Physicians in the USA are having such a love affair with Big Pharma, I guess money is more important than killing their patients. I am treating myself with serious exercise, healthy eating, and my Great Physician, God. Needless to say, I’m looking for a female doctor because this male PCP seems to talk you down and treats you like you are just a clueless female. Thanks for listening Miss Carolyn!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hello June – I know that Dr. Martha will be talking about statins for sure. My understanding is that the scientific evidence for statins in those who have already been diagnosed with heart disease is quite strong; the evidence for statin benefits in those at low risk of heart disease is mixed and controversial. More on this soon…


  3. I would ask what it would take to standardize standards of care, from diagnostic procedures to follow-up. I should think standardization would be as cost-effective as it would be beneficial to patients. Example: Discontinue all medications, including beta blockers 48 hours prior to a stress echocardiogram. Absolutely nothing with caffeine…etc., contrasted with severe warnings never to discontinue beta blockers (and others), abruptly.

    Another example: Resting echocardiography instructions. Usually none. But hydration is vital for the most valid assessment.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Jane for more good questions. My last pre-stress echocardiogram instructions, compared to yours, said: “Take your usual medications unless otherwise directed by your physician.” We’ll see what Dr. Martha has to say!


  4. Wish I was going to be there. Hmmm.

    My question IF I could be there:

    In my birth country, Canada, I can walk into a pharmacy, describe angina pain signs and receive a supply of nitroglycerin SL from a pharmacist. Along with advice to see my PCP or cardiologist. In my country of residence, USA, I can be seen urgently in a clinic or ER and NEVER get nitroglycerin unless a full barrage of tests are performed. And even then not get a supply or RX for nitro. But told to follow up with PCP or cardiologist.

    Twofold question: First is the apparent pressure on physicians to be absolutely sure of heart pathology before treating even with the most valuable basic medications for angina. Should the physician have a responsibility to first believe the patient and not machines?

    Second: In developed countries there seems to be great difficulty for a patient suggesting to the physician the most basic of medically prescribed therapies known to be effective in some cardiac conditions. Should the patient have responsibility to present to the physician Support Group or Dr. Google suggestions that are based on current medically acceptable known therapies in countries with centers of excellence who are a telephone call away?

    Thank you.
    Joan Jahnke
    Blythewood, SC, USA


    1. Two terrific questions for Dr. Martha, Joan! By the way, here in Canada we can walk into any drugstore and buy nitro tablets SL (sub-lingual, under the tongue) but I do still need a doctor’s prescription for my nitro spray. Weird, ay?


    1. Hello Theresa – great idea! I’ve already made some tentative arrangements to have our presentation filmed. Don’t know yet how to turn that film into a webinar but I’ll check into it. How hard can it be, right?


  5. Carolyn, this sounds like a fantastic opportunity to delve deeper in learning what might make a difference in our lives.

    Two questions:
    1. Discuss the growing understanding of the role of high Lp(a) (lipoprotein little a) in the development of heart disease in women and whether/how treating it is appropriate. (My understanding is that we now have a couple of drug tools to lower Lp(a), but don’t know if these actually affect outcomes; my question, why put your body through this if we don’t know it actually helps?)

    2. What’s the connection between endometriosis and heart disease (both disease processes with a strong inflammatory component)? Is anyone doing research on this and if so, what are we learning? (A physician friend found only 3 articles for me in the medical literature, two of which showed a relationship, but not cause/effect, but that was 2 years ago.)

    I was an activist in the ’80s for endometriosis research and, first, for taking women’s experience with painful periods seriously. Our pushing changed the understanding of what is “normal” for women and shifted the paradigm of this disease.

    You are helping do just that with women’s heart disease. Thank you.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Ellen for these important questions. Your activism for endometriosis awareness indeed helped to change women’s healthcare, and just as importantly, convinced healthcare providers not to dismiss women’s symptoms – some parallels here with heart disease. Will post both questions to Dr. Martha for you…


  6. A simple question from me: in the wake of a serious heart attack in the autumn of 2012, I recently learned that the left side of my heart is somewhat enlarged and the mitral valve is leaking a bit, both due presumably to the death/scarring of heart muscle on the left ventricle. Does this kind of reformation of the heart keep on going, i.e. is it the result of a vicious kind of process after every heart attack? Or does it eventually come to a full stop? I’m concerned about the development of congestive heart failure – is it inevitable after a heart attack?

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Carolyn, this sounds like it will be a terrific presentation.

    My question may not be specific to women, I don’t know, but it’s specific to this woman. I don’t understand the mechanism by which the spasms of the arteries in my heart cause the symptoms I feel.(Prinzmetal angina)

    Why can angina present as a sudden overall feeling of being unwell, followed by nausea, burping, epigastic pressure then severe epigastric pain? In my case this is relieved by sublingual nitro spray q5min x 3. If not treated quickly it subsides for 5 – 10 minutes then returns, but will stop with a second treatment of SL nitro spray x 3.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hello Jenn – That’s a good point about the first symptoms of angina often feeling like that sudden overall feeling of being unwell (not just simply a bolt of chest pain out of the blue). Will add this to our list of questions…


  8. I would ask about the role hypothyroidism (raises cholesterol) and diabetes (high glucose damages the endothelium) plays in cardiovascular disease in a deadly combination, particularly bad for women as hypothyroidism is rampant among them and both diseases are seriously underdiagnosed and very poorly treated by mainstream medicine. Preventing these diseases, or at least diagnosing them earlier and treating them more aggressively, would prevent much heart disease. And save a heck of a lot of money!

    Liked by 1 person

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