Fun facts about my women’s heart blog

by Carolyn Thomas    @HeartSisters    June 9, 2019

I celebrated an anniversary last month, dear readers. It’s now been 10 years since I launched my Heart Sisters blog. I started writing the year after my heart attack (and my subsequent trip to Mayo Clinic to attend the WomenHeart Science and Leadership patient advocacy training).

Here are some fun facts about Heart Sisters:     ..

Why the name Heart Sisters?  I didn’t invent it; it’s what female heart patients call each other on social media, in online support groups and in real life.

For two years, it was also the working title of the book I was writing based on this blog (e.g. “Heart Sisters: A Survivor’s Take on Living with Heart Disease”) before the (now former) publicity manager at Johns Hopkins University Press rejected that title, insisting – oddly – that women “might think it’s a romance novel, or a book about Valentine’s Day”) forcing several revisions in 2017 until the reluctant compromise:  A Woman’s Guide to Living with Heart Disease“, a title I still regret because of that word “guide”.

♥  Why a blog?  At first, I thought a small website would be useful to help tell readers how to book one of my free public presentations on women’s heart health that were becoming increasingly popular after my return from Mayo Clinic. Then I started writing specific articles about the amazing and scary things I’d learned at Mayo. I wrote like crazy that first year – in October 2009, for example, I wrote 24 articles (compared to the 4-5 per month I might do now). From a little 3-page site, this blog grew and grew. And grew! Over 800 articles so far, usually a new post published every Sunday morning (which could change any minute now depending on ongoing cardiac symptoms).

♥  Who reads Heart Sisters?   The vast majority of my readers live in the U.S. 🇺🇸 followed by the U.K.🇬🇧 and then by my own beautiful home, Canada 🇨🇦 (known by some Americans as commie-pinko land of socialized medicine). Most readers are heart patients or their family members (or women worried that they might become heart patients) although I do have a small but madly keen readership of breast cancer patients – even though I don’t write about breast cancer. Hundreds of physicians, nurses and other clinicians also subscribe to my blog. So far, this site has attracted over 17 million views from 190 countries.

♥ How do you make money off Heart Sisters?   I don’t.  In fact, I pay an annual fee to my blog host, WordPress, to prevent them from running those annoying ads on my site. Heart Sisters is fully self-funded, independent and advertising/conflict-of-interest free, although I am contacted almost daily by for-profit organizations wanting to buy advertising space, or place banner ads, or submit guest posts to help sell their products. My answer is always NO.

You’re welcome. . .

  The most-read Heart Sisters blog article ever is How does it really feel to have a heart attack? Women survivors answer that question. It’s been read over 2.8 million times since 2009 when I interviewed 22 women who had survived a heart attack (asking just one question: “What were your very first heart attack symptoms?”) Then I published their compelling word-for-word answers;  I was also able to include all of them in Chapter 1 of my book.

♥  Lots of words: The average Heart Sisters article is long (an average of 1,286 words, as WordPress tells me). I used to worry that this might be too long, until I read (and then wrote!) more on the enduring value of well-researched longform articles in a world of shallow click bait and short attention spans.

♥  Spammers: The WordPress security filter called Akismet has protected this site from over 1.5 million spam comments so far. That’s a lot of trolls and bots. My disclaimer page has more on how to get your comment deleted. But thank you to all of you who have left your thoughtful, funny or challenging non-spam comments in response to what you read here. I really love reading them!

♥  How do readers find you?  Most readers discover Heart Sisters by using a search engine like Google, which is millions of searches ahead of second place Bing each year. (Bing? What is that?)  Some of the most-searched words or phrases that landed readers onto this site lately, for example, include these Google queries:

  • – can I drive after a stent procedure?
  • – why so tired after my heart attack?
  • – can aspirins be cut in half?
  • – do I need to lie down to take nitro?

It struck me that these are the kind of practical everyday questions that newly-diagnosed heart patients might grapple with. They’re not the ones you’d make an urgent appointment with your physician to ask about (and your doc might not know whether you should lie down to take your nitro), so it’s nice to be able to learn more here.

♥  Social media: Of all social media sites, Facebook steers more readers here than any other platform. (Ironically, I quit my own two Facebook sites during that first security mess at FB). Twitter, Pinterest and Linked In are the next most popular referring social media platforms, in that order.

♥  Any advice for new bloggers?  Yes. Spelling and grammar are important. Also, citing credible sources is a good thing. Citing Dr. Oz is not. And finally, most importantly, life is very short. Enjoy the ride!

NOTE FROM CAROLYN:  My book A Woman’s Guide to Living with Heart Disease” reads like a “best of Heart Sisters” blog collection. You can ask for it at your local bookshop or public library, or order it online (paperback, hardcover or e-book) at Amazon, or order it directly from my publisher, Johns Hopkins University Press (use the code HTWN to save 20% off the list price).


Q:  What’s the best thing about writing (or reading!) a blog?


See also:

A Woman’s Guide to Living With Heart Disease: my blog-turned-book project!

Patient bloggers at healthcare conferences: ‘real’ journalists?

Failure to inspire (I wrote this while having a bad day as a blogger…)

23 thoughts on “Fun facts about my women’s heart blog

  1. Hi Carolyn,

    Congratulations on ten years blogging! As I hope you know, I’m a big fan. Even though we write about different diseases, the topics you write about very often relate to breast cancer too. After all, patient advocacy has many common threads, regardless of what the illness/condition might be.

    One thing (among many) that I love about your blog is the wide range of topics/angles you cover. Yes, there is that heart disease theme, but there is always something new to learn. And I love your wit, sarcasm and humor too. AND, you know what you are talking about. I mean that as a compliment!

    I like what you said in a reply to one of the comments: “If anybody had told me 10 years ago that I’d be doing this 10 years later, I might have been too overwhelmed to even start…”

    That is exactly how I feel!

    BTW, it’s hard to find other bloggers who’ve been at it as long as you and I have. Not exactly sure what that says, but I am glad you are still out there doing what you do.

    Keep writing. Keep blogging. You are helping so many women (and men). And not just those with heart disease. And that is something to celebrate and be proud of, my friend.

    Onward, right?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. How lovely to hear from you, Nancy. THANK YOU!! I do know you’re a fan, but maybe not as big a fan as I am of your writing! READERS: one of Nancy’s books (best title EVER!) is “Cancer Was Not A Gift and It Didn’t Make Me A Better Person – and you know how that message resonates with me!!!

      If I ever get too burned out or too exhausted to think of one more thing to write about, I just need to wander over to your breast cancer blog, where I know I will find a recent inspiring article so darned good that I’ll wish I’d written it myself!

      No wonder we both experience that surreal connection between two women in different countries writing about completely different diagnoses but sharing that common thread of “becoming a patient” – it is a universal nightmare, no matter the diagnosis, and in our own ways, you and I are hoping to help other women by sharing what we’ve learned along the way on our respective paths.

      For example, your recent Nancy’s Point blog topics include “When Your Doctor Doesn’t Listen: 10 Tips to Help Change That” and “When Someone You Care About Is Hurting, Don’t Try to be a Fixer” – just a small sampling of titles I could have picked myself that would be truly applicable for all Heart Sisters readers, too.

      Hmmmm…… don’t be surprised, in fact, if I end up stealing those terrific articles from you in the near future, Nancy… ♥ ♥ xoxo


  2. Congratulations Carolyn. You are an inspiration to all women. I forward your blog to my women friends and relatives in South Africa and other parts of the world where it is welcomed and appreciated.

    Many years ago, I attended a forum at VGH where you presented along with a number of women cardiologists. Your presentation was powerful and inspiring.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you very much, Sheila – I love knowing that women in South Africa (and other parts of the world!) are reading the same blog posts that you’re reading. Women’s hearts are the same no matter where we live…


  3. Congratulations on 10 stellar years Carolyn. Can’t remember when I started reading the blog, but it was shortly after your public presentation at the University of Victoria (Canada) and it has been part of my Sunday mornings ever since.

    Now, let’s address the following quote: “…(which could change any minute now depending on ongoing cardiac symptoms).”

    I’m retiring on Tuesday (happy dance!). If you require help of any kind to keep these posts coming, or to attend any of your presentations, I’m available and living in your city.

    (And my grammar and spelling are pretty good.)

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hello Deborah and Happy Retirement (almost!) I do remember that particular UVic presentation long ago – but who knew then that you would develop a serious health crisis yourself much later?

      I had to laugh out loud at your bio details about your grammar and spelling skills (that’s an inside joke in my family!) Thanks so much for your kind post-retirement offer – I just may take you up on that…


  4. I started reading Carolyn’s posts in 2010, shortly after I underwent a quintuple heart bypass surgery when I was 49, and while feeling in despair, in distress, and in need to connect with a support group.

    I had so many questions about my recovery process and wanted to know that I was not alone in this journey.

    I found a wonderful virtual support group through WomenHeart where I shared my feelings and questions with other heart sisters. I was truly blessed when I began to receive responses and answers from other women that had gone through similar experience as mine.

    Carolyn’s posts were very inspirational and encouraging!

    Yaskary Reyes

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hello Yaskary and thanks for weighing in here! I too discovered the WomenHeart online support community almost as soon as I was discharged from the CCU. I felt absolutely desperate to figure out what the heck had just happened to me. I didn’t know a single other woman like me in my social or work circles, I was the only woman in my cardiac rehab class and the youngest by at least two decades, and suddenly I found thousands of other women like me online! What a tremendous relief at that scary time!

      And for those (usually healthcare professionals) who discount online patient groups because of credibility or accuracy concerns, researchers continue to find that the information shared on these sites is actually quite credible. The British Medical Journal (BMJ) for example, reported that less than 1% (just 0.22%, in fact) of thousands of patient group postings contained any “false or misleading” statements, and these are rapidly corrected by other participants in subsequent postings.


  5. Thank you for all your work and dedication to quality healthcare for women and heart patients. As a health care practitioner….I am definitely interested in longer well researched articles than quick sound bites.

    I have had the diagnosis of Hypertrophic Obstructive Cardiomyopathy for 13 years. Having had surgery to remove some of the thickened muscle…..and not getting better, I turned to a well monitored forum on line for people with HCM. There I found life saving information about the strides Mayo Clinic had made in the the surgical treatment of HOCM. I went to Mayo and had my surgery redone and my quality of life restored. I then participated almost daily in that forum to help other people going through the same issues.

    Soooo in 2017 when I required a stent placement I searched online for similar support information on the day to day nuances of CAD, Angina, Fatigue etc. from REAL people with REAL experiences.

    That is the value I have found in this blog….Accurate up to date information and the experiences of real people. A friend of mine started an HCM blog called where she writes articles and reviews current research in HCM.

    P.S. I have never heard the commie pinko socialized Medicine comment …. I have friends in Canada and they all feel well cared for by your medical model …. not quite so in America! 🙄LOL

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Jill – I love hearing stories like yours (not the suffering needlessly part before your Mayo surgery, but the part about seeking and finding help online from other people like you who have become “experts” in their diagnoses, and then sharing lifesaving information with other patients). How fantastic that you were able to go to Mayo – what an amazing and magical place!

      I’m familiar with Cynthia’s terrific HCM Beat blog (and hey! isn’t that your “Surgical Myomectomy: A Twice in a Lifetime Experience” guest post featured here?!

      Well done! You’re helping many people living with hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, just as you have been helped before.

      PS. Re our Canadian healthcare system: surveys continue to show overwhelming national support of our “commie pinko socialized medicine” system here, as evidenced by this testimony of Canadian physician Dr. Danielle Martin correcting a room full of ill-informed U.S. senators… Our healthcare system is not perfect, but I’m very grateful for a system that allowed me to receive world-class cardiac care, for which I spent not one dime: my two trips to Emergency, all diagnostic tests, all cardiac procedures, hospital stays, all drugs while hospitalized, all specialist referrals, nursing care and a cardiologist’s follow up for life are all covered.


  6. Congratulations, Carolyn! I read every word of your blog after finding it through Google years ago. I read the blog for encouragement, learning, and the feeling that I am not alone on this heart journey. Thank you for each and every post and may we all lift a glass to Heart Sisters’ long, long future. ❤

    Liked by 2 people

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