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“Dear Carolyn: I was never one to complain. . . “

10 Jun

by Carolyn Thomas    @HeartSisters    June 10, 2018

Sometimes, the story of how another woman first discovered she had heart disease can seem eerily familiar to our own. It’s that familiarity that first attracted me to this Dear Carolyn episode (our fourth in the occasional series that features my Heart Sisters readers sharing the unique experience of what it can feel like to become a heart patient).

This particular blog reader, who prefers to remain anonymous, explains her reluctance to seek medical help while repeatedly blaming her distressing symptoms on non-cardiac causes. I completely identified with that reluctance because I went through that same surreal refusal to seek help for my own worsening cardiac symptoms after being misdiagnosed in the E.R. with acid reflux. If you, too, have ever engaged in what researchers call “treatment-seeking delay behaviour” during a heart attack, her story might feel familiar to you, too. 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

Let’s pretend that atypical heart attack symptoms don’t exist

25 Feb
by Carolyn Thomas    @HeartSisters  ♥  February 25, 2018

Two cardiology reports landed in my inbox on the same day this past week, inside the same issue of the same cardiology journal. The first was a Yale University study on how women, particularly women younger than age 55, fare worse after surviving a heart attack compared to male counterparts, partly because of a tendency to present with vague or atypical symptoms that can delay accurate diagnoses.(1) The second was about the future of the American Heart Association’s Go Red For Women® campaign.(2)* Both papers were published in the journal, Circulation.

The trouble was this: each report seemed to contradict the other. Continue reading

Same heart attack, same misdiagnosis – but one big difference

4 Feb

by Carolyn Thomas  ♥  @HeartSisters   February 4, 2018

Our two stories are freakishly the same in so many ways:

In 58-year old Nancy Bradley’s story, she went to the Emergency Department at the Royal Inland Hospital near her home in Kamloops as soon as she felt alarming symptoms she knew might be heart-related: dizziness, sweating, shortness of breath and “an elephant sitting on my chest” feeling. (In my story, I was 58 as well, and I went to Emergency at the Royal Jubilee Hospital near my home in Victoria as soon as my own alarming heart attack symptoms started).

All of Nancy’s cardiac diagnostic tests seemed to be “normal”. (All of my diagnostic tests seemed to be “normal”, too).

Nancy’s Emergency physician suspected heartburn, and suggested she take antacid drugs. (My Emergency physician suspected heartburn, and suggested that I take antacids).  Continue reading

But what about the men?

21 Jan

by Carolyn Thomas 

The irreverent Laura Haywood-Cory of North Carolina is, like me, a heart attack survivor and, also like me, a graduate of Mayo Clinic’s WomenHeart Science & Leadership Symposium for Women With Heart Disease in Rochester, Minnesota (where she’s also attended the Mayo Clinic Social Media Summit, too!)

Her own dramatic heart story is that of an often deadly condition usually seen in young, healthy women with few if any known cardiac risk factors: Spontaneous Coronary Artery Dissection or SCAD. I’m happy to say she has been making a heroic effort to beat this sucker into the ground – just one year after surviving her heart attack at age 40, Laura completed the Chapel Hill Ramblin’ Rose Triathlon. It’s her unique take on a surprisingly frequent response to women’s heart disease that I want to share with you today:  Continue reading