“A Typical Heart”: how YOU can help create this documentary!

NEWS UPDATE:  “A Typical Heart” was awarded a $50,000 grant from Telus and StoryHive!  The 22-minute documentary was launched on July 15, 2019.


by Carolyn Thomas    @HeartSisters    July 30, 2018

Do you sometimes wish that everybody (and their healthcare providers) were more aware of the unique differences in male and female heart disease? …. 

I know you do! Cristina D’Alessandro is a Toronto-area paramedic and healthcare researcher who has that same wish. She’s a healthcare professional who, like so many of us, is concerned about what’s known as the cardiology gender gap in diagnosing and treating women’s heart disease. She asks, for example, this brilliant question: 

“In paramedic school, they teach us about the ‘atypical’ signs of a woman’s heart attack. But why exactly do they call it ‘atypical’ when women are more than half the population?”

Cristina and her filmmaker friends at Distillery Films won a $50,000 funding grant for this documentary film project!! Filming began during the winter (including here in Victoria!) and editing is underway!

Screen Shot 2019-02-01 at 9.40.16 AM

GOOD LUCK Cristina, Chris and Laura on this really important project, described as “exploring the deadly disparity between male and female heart disease, through the lens of healthcare professionals, researchers, patients, and their families.”

Can’t wait to see the finished film!!!

PS Need more convincing that a documentary like this is vitally important to women?  My Twitter response to Johns Hopkins University cardiologist Dr. Erin Michos:

Screen Shot 2018-07-31 at 6.51.17 AM

See also:

Excuse Me While I Bang My Head Against this Wall

Yentl Syndrome: Cardiology’s Gender Gap is Alive and Well

How Does It Really Feel to Have a Heart Attack? Women Survivors Tell Their Stories

Diagnosis – and Misdiagnosis – of Women’s Heart Disease

14 Reasons To Be Glad You’re A Man When You’re Having a Heart Attack

His and Hers Heart Attacks

How Doctors Discovered That Women Have Heart Disease, Too

Gender Differences in Heart Attack Treatment Contribute To Women’s Higher Death Rates

9 thoughts on ““A Typical Heart”: how YOU can help create this documentary!

  1. I’m banging my head up against the wall of disbelief (my current cardiologist) in my variant (Prinzmetal) angina symptoms. Sounds like muscle spasms to him. It’s now more than 21 years since the first episode occurred in a hospital, where I was fortunate to be on a monitor and the symptoms raised alarms so that I was quickly treated. Three major teaching institutions, so many tests that showed damage consistent with a heart attack, all eight inches of documentation and yet I face skepticism with this doctor. It’s scary and frustrating. So here’s to “The Atypical Heart” documentary project. Here, here!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Mahjo, your (current) cardiologist reminds me of another reader’s cardio who, when asked if her debilitating cardiac symptoms might be due to coronary microvascular disease, replied: “I don’t believe in microvascular disease!” – just as if they were chatting about the tooth fairy or Santa Claus… Hopefully, we can one day convince all docs that women should be taken seriously – and this “A Typical Heart” documentary will be a useful tool to do that!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Hey Carolyn! My BIL has been a paramedic first responder for over 3 decades. He did a CE class at a conference about a year ago on us. He now is a PIO for wildfires and I think just went out on a fire, but he is a great source of info. His name is Norm Rooker. And he’s on FB. Just an FYI!

    Cathy ‘Katie’ Bottoms

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Katie – Love to hear about paramedics who are knowledgeable about women’s heart disease! I’ll pass on your brother-in-law’s contact info to Cristina and her film pals…


  3. I’m especially glad to see that a female paramedic is promoting this project!

    Unfortunately, the (all-male) team of paramedics who cared for me during my heart attack were the biggest “doubters” of all the HCPs I saw during my time in the hospital. Once they found out I was medicated for anxiety, they kept saying, “this is totally just a panic attack”. They used the negative EKG as “proof”, even though it’s quite possible that an NSTEMI attack like I had doesn’t show up on the EKG even during the attack itself. They kept telling me to calm down and that I was hyperventilating and “making it worse”.

    I wish I had been able to show them my 99% blockage in the circumflex artery! Grrrr.

    Go Cristina!

    Liked by 3 people

      1. I am in the UK and had almost the exact same experience in 2017, ‘elephant on chest’ pain etc, painful arms. Went to ER, two cardiologists couldn’t agree, sent home with antacids, only to be called back in four days later as they saw elevated troponins on an extra test reading which they hadn’t spotted. Then it was “We need you back in here now!”.

        I’d had continuing symptoms all that week and went to the GP who gave me different antacids!! I was then waiting for 3 weeks for an angiogram. Luckily there was no damage and a year later I am still ok. I was signed off and told that for travel insurance purposes I had experienced a ‘Heart Event’ ! This is despite the fact that my father had similar problems from around the age of 56 just like me so there was a family history or should that read ‘His Story’ !

        Liked by 1 person

        1. Hello Louise – thanks for sharing your story. “elevated troponins on an extra test reading which they hadn’t spotted”?!? It’s unbelievable that they somehow missed that, given that positive cardiac enzymes are considered one of the key indicators of a ‘heart event’ – and are NOT treated with antacids…


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