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.”

Heavy menstrual cycles and those anticoagulant drugs you’re taking

by Carolyn Thomas     @HeartSisters

Sara Wyen is a writer and founder of Blood Clot Recovery Network, a site that helps patients through the recovery process from deep vein thrombosis* or pulmonary embolism*. Her own story about a freakishly heavy period while taking her anticoagulant medication is a good one to share with any women you know who are prescribed these drugs.    .            .     Continue reading “Heavy menstrual cycles and those anticoagulant drugs you’re taking”

A children’s book about living with an open heart surgery scar

by Carolyn Thomas     @HeartSisters

When Zayna’s infant daughter Sarah was just five months old, the baby underwent open heart surgery to correct a congenital heart defect she’d been born with. “The surgery truly saved her life!” says Zayna. “She went from being tube-fed to becoming a bouncing ball of energy.”

But a few years later, Sarah had an experience with her little friends – one that resulted in a new book for kids who are just like her.    .    .  Continue reading “A children’s book about living with an open heart surgery scar”

Heart disease: decades in the making

by Carolyn Thomas      @HeartSisters  

I was surprised to learn after surviving my own heart attack that cardiac events like mine may take 20-30 years to actually show up. In other words, I didn’t have a heart attack because I ate a piece of bacon or had a stressful day at work. I had a heart attack because something – likely decades earlier – had damaged the delicate endothelial cells lining my coronary arteries.          .      .  .    .   Continue reading “Heart disease: decades in the making”

The weirdest stuff I’ve learned about women’s heart disease

by Carolyn Thomas     @HeartSisters

You know it’s Heart Month when scary facts about the dangers of heart disease start flooding our screens. But that kind of Heart Month messaging is so pre-COVID – long before September when we learned the shocking results of the American Heart Association’s national survey.  This survey found that women’s awareness of heart disease has actually declined – NOT improved at all! – over the past decade, despite all the inspiring Red Dress-awareness-raising-Go-Red-for-Women campaign efforts out there.  

So instead of repeating more scary facts as if I hadn’t read that survey’s results,  I’m simply offering some weird stuff I’ve learned over the years about women and heart disease:    .         .     Continue reading “The weirdest stuff I’ve learned about women’s heart disease”

Walking the tightrope: women cardiologists in an old boys’ club

by Carolyn Thomas     @HeartSisters   

You know there’s trouble when the Women In Cardiology Leadership Council reports this year that their group (part of the American College of Cardiology) is “very frustrated and concerned about the lack of growth in the numbers of women pursuing a career in cardiology.”(1) 

And no wonder! Fewer than 13 per cent of cardiologists are women, despite what’s been called “a robust pipeline of female med students and internal medicine residents” who could choose this field.(2)  And I’d bet my next squirt of nitro spray that a man implanted your stent  – because only about 5 per cent of all interventional cardiologists (the ones specifically trained for this procedure) are women.

Female cardiologists are not only the minority in their profession, but “discrimination against women is entrenched in the culture of cardiology”; in fact, female cardiologists are more likely than males (96% vs 8%) to experience discrimination related to gender.(3)       .         .            .         .    Continue reading “Walking the tightrope: women cardiologists in an old boys’ club”