Most-read Heart Sisters posts from a crazy year

by Carolyn Thomas      @HeartSisters

I’ve often been surprised by which of my Heart Sisters blog articles attract the most readers. Sometimes, the most obviously brilliant of my posts just sit there, ignored, while the ones I almost didn’t write (like that article on pacemakers!  Who knew?)  attract ongoing attention. The all-time most-read post ever, with a total of over 2.8 million views, is 2009’s “How Does It Really Feel to Have a Heart Attack?  Women Survivors Answer That Question.”  I could have retired from blogging right there.

And this year’s final tally of the most-read blog posts of the past year continues to surprise me. Here’s how the numbers people rank the Top 10:    .      . 

1. Post-Stent Chest Pain –  January 19, 2020: Maybe it’s not that surprising that an article helping to explain a poorly explained cause of chest pain in heart patients after hospital discharge is likely to find a readership. I had no clue after having my own stent implanted in 2008 that the alarming chest pain I continued to experience is common – typically what docs call “stretch pain” because of the way the coronary artery was expanded during the procedure. It’s common, temporary and usually benign, but please read this one if your own post-stent chest pain continues or worsens.

2. The “Handlebar Gripping” Cardiac Symptom – October 4, 2020:  Helen Akinc, one of my blog readers, shares a story that is remarkably common among female heart patients: our tendency to accept the first plausible explanation for odd symptoms – even when it’s quite wrong. 

3. The Doctors Want My Symptoms, But Not My Stories – August 23, 2020: 80% of medical diagnoses can be made just by listening, according to Dr. Leana Wen. The symptoms, she adds, are in the story.

4. Does COVID-19 Cause Carb Cravings (Or Is It Just Me?) – May 31, 2020: You don’t want to kill for a piece of broccoli, but you’d kill for a piece of bread. Why stress-eating during COVID-19 in my house means craving carbohydrates (the most-read of the 16 pandemic-themed posts I wrote here in 2020).

5. The sudden death of an ex-husband – September 6, 2020: One of my friends wondered aloud if it was appropriate to offer condolences to the EX-spouse of someone who has just died? Here’s what I learned when my own ex died suddenly in August (plus a link to the truly lovely obituary that our children wrote about their Dad).

6. Stents vs. Bypass Surgery vs. TRUST February 23, 2020:  Rebuilding trust requires answering these 3 questions: “Do you know what you’re doing? Will you tell me what you’re doing? Are you doing this to help me or yourself?”  I wrote about this BBC NightNews investigation of dueling cardiologists whose research made worldwide headlines last year (“Heart Doctors Held Back Stent Death Data).”

7.  A Professor’s Take on Women’s Heart Disease – January 12, 2020: Oxford University’s Professor Mark Woodward wrote a shocking report called “Cardiovascular Disease and the Female Disadvantage“ . This makes fascinating reading for all women, but it’s potentially repellent to the minority of physicians who still dismiss the entire notion of the gender gap in cardiology – sadly, the ones least likely to read what Professor Woodward has to say.

8. Let’s All be Palm Trees Together in Facing COVID-19 – March 15, 2020: A guest post I published about this new pandemic that had essentially sent us all into our homes during the first wave in March. It was originally published by Walk With A Doc, a terrific non-profit group launched by Ohio cardiologist Dr. David Sabgir in 2005 that now has neighbourhood walking chapters around the world, led by physician volunteers and other healthcare professionals. Find out if there’s a Walk With a Doc group in your area (NOTE: many WWAD walking groups are temporarily on hold due to COVID-19)

9. The Real Reason We’re So Tired of Zoom Calls – May 17, 2020:  I started wondering if the collective fatigue we all seemed to be  feeling during scheduled video chats this past year was actually caused by, as Dr. Even Selinger calls it, the “painful awareness that life can’t go back to normal” while the pandemic continues.

10. A Patient, a Caregiver and a Doctor Walk into a Bar. . . – July 26, 2020.  Oops, I lied about the bar. You will not believe the shocking disparity in responses when cardiac researchers asked three distinct groups of people about their reactions to heart failure (and pleeeeeease, can we stop calling it “heart FAILURE”?)


Looking for more good reading material while you’re hunkered down at home wondering what to do with your time? You can find links to the archived list of all 800+ Heart Sisters blog articles published here since 2009.

Thank you dear readers for continuing to read and comment on any of the posts here that seem to strike a chord with you. I appreciate your support, your interest and especially your comments.  Please take care and stay safe out there as we all head into the mysteries that the New Year will bring for us.

NOTE FROM CAROLYN:   If you don’t want to plough through 800+ Heart Sisters blog articles, you’ll find many of the “Best of” highlights concisely included in my book,  “A Woman’s Guide to Living with Heart Disease” (Johns Hopkins University Press). You can ask for it at your local library or favourite bookshop, or order it online (paperback, hardcover or e-book) at Amazon, or order it directly from my publisher, Johns Hopkins University Press (use their code HTWN to save 20% off the list price).


Q:   What other topics on women’s heart health would you like to see covered in the year ahead?


4 thoughts on “Most-read Heart Sisters posts from a crazy year

    1. Hi Patricia – I think I’m overdue to write about atrial fibrillation (which also happens to be one of the biggest reasons that heart patients are admitted to hospital).

      Take care, stay safe. . . ♥


    1. You are right! We’re very overdue for an update on coronary microvascular disease (aka MINOCA/INOCA “myocardial infarction/myocardial ischemia with No Obstructive Coronary Artery Disease”)

      You and I share this diagnosis, Sandra, so we both know how debilitating (and also completely under-appreciated it is by both women and so many of their docs). The 2019 Meeting of Minds conference in London, England remains the BEST and most current one-stop shopping information resource, in my opinion. They livestreamed all the keynote speakers (including world experts on this diagnosis like (my hero!) Professor Juan-Carlos Kaski and Dr. Noel Bairey Merz, among many others!) These videos are available free online here. Don’t worry about the privacy warnings (I have permission to share this link with my readers).

      These presentations are worth a look for anybody (patients AND physicians) who need to learn more about “small vessel disease”. I have mentioned them widely in my other blog posts about microvascular disease (here here and here for example) but this important info deserves its own blog post for sure!

      Take care, and stay safe. . . ♥


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