A cardiologist’s own family calls 911 – but has to beg for help

by Carolyn Thomas    @HeartSisters  ♥  June 16, 2019

Dr. Jennifer Co-Vu is a pediatric cardiologist at the University of Florida Congenital Heart Center. She recently shared on Twitter a chilling report of what happened when 911 was called to help her own mother-in-law who was experiencing crushing chest pain. The ambulance arrived quickly, but paramedics told this 65-year old woman with diabetes that she was having a panic attack.

Unlike other women who are misdiagnosed in mid-heart attack, however, this patient had immediate access to something few of us have: doctors in her family.   .. Continue reading “A cardiologist’s own family calls 911 – but has to beg for help”

The chest pain / panic connection

by Carolyn Thomas    @HeartSisters     April 28, 2019

For most of us, feelings of anxiety or panic are generally occasional, mild and brief – normal responses to being worried or scared. I never thought of myself as a person who was prone to experience anxiety or panic – until I survived a heart attack. I can now tell you quite confidently that there are few things in life that are more anxiety-producing than being in the middle of a frickety-frackin’ heart attack. . . Continue reading “The chest pain / panic connection”

Why won’t doctors believe women?

by Carolyn Thomas     @HeartSisters    March 24, 2019

A woman in one of my Heart-Smart Women presentation audiences told me about a conversation she overheard in our local Emergency Department, in which the physician said to the (male) patient in the bed next to hers:

“All of your cardiac tests came back ‘normal’, but we’re going to admit you for observation just to make sure it isn’t your heart.”

That story tells us that (unlike your average woman – i.e. me! – with cardiac symptoms alarming enough to propel her to seek emergency care, but unlucky enough to have tests that look “normal”), a man who shows up with both cardiac symptoms and “normal” test results does not need to fight to be believed. Continue reading “Why won’t doctors believe women?”

Is SCAD rare? Or just rarely diagnosed correctly?

by Carolyn Thomas   @HeartSisters    February 10, 2019

I was happy to see Katherine Leon featured in The New York Times recently. Katherine, like me, is a graduate of the WomenHeart Science & Leadership patient advocacy training at Mayo Clinic. She told the Times of undergoing emergency coronary bypass surgery at age 38, several days after her severe cardiac symptoms had been dismissed by doctors who told her, “There’s nothing wrong with you.” She isn’t alone. Many, many studies have shown that female heart patients are significantly more likely to be under-diagnosed – and worse, often under-treated even when appropriately diagnosed – compared to our male counterparts. This is especially true for women with her condition (Spontaneous Coronary Artery Dissection, or SCAD) that was once considered to be a rare disease. Dr. Sharonne Hayes is also featured in the NYT piece; she’s a respected Mayo Clinic cardiologist, longtime SCAD researcher and founder of the Mayo Women’s Heart Clinic. (You can read their story here).

But almost as soon as the Times piece was published online, I was gobsmacked to see some of the reader comments coming in – especially comments from people like these:   Continue reading “Is SCAD rare? Or just rarely diagnosed correctly?”

The dilemma of the death certificate

by Carolyn Thomas     @HeartSisters    February 3, 2019
.
In a good old-fashioned murder mystery, we know that the plot starts to heat up when the dead body is discovered and the cause of death determined. But in real life, most of us will not die quite so dramatically.
.
If we live with one or more chronic illnesses, in fact, the name of at least one of those diagnoses will probably be listed on our official death certificates someday. (We could also get run over by a bus long before then, but let’s face it, chronic diseases cause 70% of deaths worldwide).
.
It struck me recently that, had I died during what doctors call my widowmaker heart attack in 2008, the official cause of death would have likely read “myocardial infarction”. But that would have been wrong. The actual cause of my death would have been that I was misdiagnosed with acid reflux and sent home from the Emergency Department.
Continue reading “The dilemma of the death certificate”

Fewer lights/sirens when a woman heart patient is in the ambulance

by Carolyn Thomas   @HeartSisters    January 13, 2019

emsI sometimes think that, during the almost 10 years I’ve been writing about women’s heart disease research, diagnostics and treatment, I’ve heard it all when it comes to women being under-diagnosed and under-treated (yes, sometimes under-treated even when appropriately diagnosed!)  I thought I was unshockable by now. But a study published last month in the journal, Women’s Health Issues (WHI) was indeed a shocker.    .
Continue reading “Fewer lights/sirens when a woman heart patient is in the ambulance”