When a red dress just isn’t enough to raise awareness

by Carolyn Thomas       @HeartSisters

A decade of lost ground  is how the official commentary from the American Heart Association bluntly described the stunningly awful results of its own 2019 National Survey on women’s heart disease awareness reported last month. I wrote about my own stunned reaction to this survey in Women’s Heart Disease: an Awareness Campaign Fail?

The results were astonishing.  They suggested that women not only had a low awareness of even the most basic facts about heart disease – the #1 killer of women worldwide – but awareness levels were significantly lower than an AHA awareness survey had found 10 years earlier.    .        .    .    .   Continue reading “When a red dress just isn’t enough to raise awareness”

“Don’t lift anything heavier than a fork”: really bad advice after heart surgery

by Carolyn Thomas       @HeartSisters

Almost 200 years ago, newspapers reported on the outcome of a surgical amputation performed in London by Robert Liston (apparently known as the “fastest knife in the West End” – because speed was important in pre-anaesthesia 1829). Here’s how this was described:

“The operation was successful, but the patient died.”

We don’t know much about the unfortunate patient who went under the knife that day (thus making that ironic description famous in medical circles). But fast forward through the centuries to a duo of modern researchers who wondered why some patients who are undergoing successful cardiac surgery end up having poor outcomes, too.       .                 

Continue reading ““Don’t lift anything heavier than a fork”: really bad advice after heart surgery”

How long does it take to heal from open heart surgery?

                                Valerie Johnson’s surgery was in 2013:  ©British Heart Foundation

by Carolyn Thomas       @HeartSisters

Heart patients are like all other patients in one major way: we have important quality-of-life questions for our doctors, like: “How long will it take after my _______  (insert name of  medical procedure) before I’m feeling well enough to _______  (insert whatever it is you want to get back to doing: drive, fly, golf, have sex, return to work, etc.)?” 

But what happens when different doctors offer different answers to that important question?       .         .            .   Continue reading “How long does it take to heal from open heart surgery?”

The “handlebar gripping” cardiac symptom

by Carolyn Thomas       @HeartSisters

When the Emergency Department physician misdiagnosed my “widow maker” heart attack as acid reflux, I actually felt relieved at first.  I’d much rather have indigestion than heart disease, thank you very much. His confident misdiagnosis meant I was temporarily willing to ignore the obvious cardiac symptoms that had propelled me to Emergency that morning: central chest pain, nausea, sweating and pain down my left arm.

Even I knew that arm pain is NOT a symptom of acid reflux, yet somehow that first plausible answer seemed preferable to the far more serious real answer I would receive much later.      .      . Continue reading “The “handlebar gripping” cardiac symptom”

Women’s heart disease: an awareness campaign fail?

by Carolyn Thomas       @HeartSisters

I’ve been thinking a lot about awareness-raising lately because of a bombshell report(1) from the 2019 American Heart Association National Survey released this month.  Among other completely demoralizing findings, this report found that women’s awareness of their most common heart attack symptoms has significantly declined from a prior survey done 10 years earlier. How is that even possible?   .      .     .  Continue reading “Women’s heart disease: an awareness campaign fail?”