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Our cardiac meds – in real life, not just in studies

16 Sep

by Carolyn Thomas    @HeartSisters    September 16, 2018

If you – like me – have had a heart attack, you are now likely taking a fistful of medications each morning, everything from anti-platelet drugs to help prevent a new blockage from forming inside your metal stent to meds that can help lower your blood pressure. All of these cardiac drugs have been studied by researchers before being approved by government regulators as being safe and effective for us to take every day.

But one particular study on this subject published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology(1) raised a unique point:

“Little is known about the benefits and risks of longterm use of cardiovascular drugs. Clinical trials rarely go beyond a few years of follow-up, but patients are often given continuous treatment with multiple drugs well into old age.”  

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Dear Carolyn: “Breaking up is hard to do”

3 Aug

by Carolyn Thomas    @HeartSisters     August 3, 2018

Breaking up is hard to do. That’s how my blog reader Tommie O’Sullivan described to me the sad news that she lost first one, and then a second trusted cardiologist. It’s nothing personal. Important family reasons. Retirement. She understands these things. But still. . .

As part of my occasional and ongoing “Dear Carolyn” series of guest posts written by women who have learned firsthand what becoming a heart patient is all about, I’m happy to share this, with her permission. Tommie’s words reminded me that, so far, I’ve been lucky in never experiencing the loss of a favourite physician. I suspect that – in this age of increasingly empowered patients, critical doctor reviews online, and second opinions from Dr. Google – her sentiments are what every physician longs to hear one day from their patients: “I will really miss you!”  Continue reading

Dr. Martha Gulati’s fabulous foreword to my book

24 Jun

by Carolyn Thomas   @HeartSisters  ♥  June 24, 2018

Dr. Martha Gulati

When you open a non-fiction book, you’ll likely find a section called the foreword, written by somebody who is not the book’s author. It addresses a reader’s questions about the book: Why is the author of this book particularly qualified to write it? What will I gain or learn by reading this book?

The Chicago Manual of Style writing guide describes a foreword as “written by someone eminent to lend credibility to the book”. 

I needed to find someone eminent (definition: famous, respected, important) to agree to write the foreword for A Woman’s Guide to Living With Heart Disease because, unlike other heart books out there written by cardiologists, my heart book was written by a heart patient with zero medical training. To many, that translates as zero credibility. Continue reading

Deep thoughts about death and heart disease

20 May

by Carolyn Thomas  @HeartSisters

I loved reading the late Yale Medical School professor Dr. Sherwin Nuland’s highly-recommended book How We Die – which is not nearly as grim as it may sound. In fact, it’s an endlessly fascinating read. For heart patients, the concept of death can suddenly become far more personally compelling than most of us ever imagined it to be.

But we live in a death-denying society. People don’t want to think about death, much less talk about it. As Dr. Nuland wrote, death to most of us occurs “in sterile seclusion cloaked in euphemism and taboo”. We don’t even like using the ‘D’-word. Instead of ‘dying’, some of us prefer to just “pass away” or “go to be with Jesus”. Continue reading

“Doing Harm”: Enter to win Maya Dusenbery’s new book

11 Mar

by Carolyn Thomas    @HeartSisters    March 11, 2018

Author Maya Dusenbery interviewed me while I was neck-deep in final copy edits of my book, A Woman’s Guide to Living with Heart Disease. She wanted to talk about why women heart patients are more likely to be under-diagnosed than men, and then – worse! – more likely to be under-treated even when appropriately diagnosed. Maya was writing her own book at the time, and it’s finally out this week. Its pithy title sums up the focus pretty succinctly: Doing Harm: The Truth About How Bad Medicine and Lazy Science Leave Women Dismissed, Misdiagnosed, and Sick. Here’s a 10-word summary of her book:

My own review of Dusenbery’s book starts with this warning to my heart sisters: “Do NOT start reading Doing Harm unless you have first taken your blood pressure meds!”    Continue reading