Heart Month awareness: doing the same thing, yet expecting different results

by Carolyn Thomas   ♥   @HeartSisters

February is our shortest month of the year and also the month officially acknowledged almost everywhere as Heart Health Awareness Month. Then we all turn the calendar page and glide over to March, the official month of Liver Health Awareness, Disability Awareness, Ovarian Cancer Awareness, Red Cross Awareness worldwide – and many other causes. My niggling question remains: do these assorted official days/weeks/months of awareness-raising actually help to raise awareness out there?  Continue reading “Heart Month awareness: doing the same thing, yet expecting different results”

Dear Carolyn: “After 19 months of daily discomfort, my pacemaker was replaced”

by Carolyn Thomas   ♥  @HeartSisters

             .     Clayton & Linda Vardy

As part of our occasional “Dear Carolyn” series of personal patient perspectives shared by my readers, today I’m introducing you to Canadian heart patient, Linda Vardy, a retired high school math teacher. You might expect that Linda’s experience of undergoing triple bypass surgery at age 61 (after being told for almost a year that all of her cardiac test results were “inconclusive”) would be a dominant theme in her story – but that part is for a future post.

Ten years after her surgery, Linda was told that she now needed a pacemaker implanted. And that’s when things started going sideways. While I was reading her story, I couldn’t help wondering if Linda might have been treated differently had she been a male heart patient.  Read her story and let me know what you think. . .       . Continue reading “Dear Carolyn: “After 19 months of daily discomfort, my pacemaker was replaced””

Dear Carolyn: “I take issue with the heart attack terms STEMI and NSTEMI”

by Carolyn Thomas   ♥   @HeartSisters

Today, in this Dear Carolyn episode (our 11th in the occasional series featuring Heart Sisters readers sharing their heart patient perspectives), we’ll attempt to address my reader Eva’s observations about how our heart attacks are currently classified:

I take issue with the terms STEMI (the most serious type of heart attack) and NSTEMI (a slightly less serious heart attack). But both types of heart attack have a serious impact on our lives and how we live them.”             

Dear Eva,

The day I first read your comment in response to an earlier Heart Sisters post coincided with the tragic heart attack death of a woman in an American hospital’s Emergency Department. Continue reading “Dear Carolyn: “I take issue with the heart attack terms STEMI and NSTEMI””

Revisiting the “widow maker” heart attack

by Carolyn Thomas       @HeartSisters

In 2018, many viewers of the hit NBC television drama “This Is Us”  learned the term “widow maker heart attack” for the first time when the beloved main character Jack Pearson was pronounced dead. As TIME magazine later reported, online searches for that term spiked more than 5,000 per cent in the hours after that episode aired. Some viewers took to social media to tell their stories about loved ones who had died from – or survived – their own cardiac events.

Television is so educational!           .    Continue reading “Revisiting the “widow maker” heart attack”

New chest pain guideline: “atypical” is OUT!

by Carolyn Thomas    @HeartSisters

At last! This long-awaited first-ever Guideline for the Evaluation and Diagnosis of Chest Pain for physicians and their patients has done a deep dive to help improve accuracy in evaluating and diagnosing cardiac symptoms(1)  – a huge and overwhelming effort.  I’m hopeful that updated guidelines might represent a turning point for all women presenting with those symptoms – and for the physicians who diagnose them.  Here’s my take on the impressive new Chest Pain Guideline  – along with a few concerns:      .       .  Continue reading “New chest pain guideline: “atypical” is OUT!”

How I used to describe SCAD. And what I’ve learned since.

by Carolyn Thomas    @HeartSisters

I’d never heard of the heart condition called Spontaneous Coronary Artery Dissection (SCAD) until I attended the WomenHeart Science & Leadership patient advocacy training at Mayo Clinic in 2008.  SCAD, I learned back then, was a rare and often fatal condition, seen mostly in young, healthy women who have few if any cardiac risk factors. But in a recent interview, cardiologists who specialize in this frequently misunderstood diagnosis added some surprising updates to what is now known about SCAD.     .        . Continue reading “How I used to describe SCAD. And what I’ve learned since.”