Modern medicine is male-centric medicine, and that’s a problem for women.

by Carolyn Thomas    ♥   @HeartSisters 

In September, I mentioned here an important book written by Dr. Alyson McGregor, an Emergency physician and associate professor of medicine at Brown University.  The book: Sex Matters:  How Male-Centric Medicine Endangers Women’s Health and What We Can Do About It“.   Her first chapter opens with a story about Julie, a 32-year old woman she met in her Emergency department one day – a story that’s disturbingly familiar to women like me whose heart attack has been misdiagnosed:          .    Continue reading “Modern medicine is male-centric medicine, and that’s a problem for women.”

Diagnostic Uncertainty vs. Unwarranted Certainty: which is worse for patients?

by Carolyn Thomas     ♥    @HeartSisters 

The Emergency physician who misdiagnosed my heart attack displayed not even a whiff of uncertainty while delivering that misdiagnosis.  “YOU” – he declared confidently – “are in the right demographic for acid reflux!”  (without any gastrointestinal diagnostic tests). He sent me home that day with instructions to ask my family doctor to prescribe antacid drugs for my symptoms (central chest pain, nausea, sweating and pain down my left arm).  I now suspect that, if only that confident doc would have bothered to Google my symptoms, both he and Dr. Google would have landed on the same search result:  myocardial infarction (heart attack).

But in fact, he seemed remarkably certain despite being remarkably wrong.   . Continue reading “Diagnostic Uncertainty vs. Unwarranted Certainty: which is worse for patients?”

Must women bring an advocate along so doctors will believe us?

by Carolyn Thomas    ♥   @HeartSisters

This week, three books and three bold messages about the problem with male-centric medicine:  In her book Sex Matters: How Male-Centric Medicine Endangers Women’s Health, Dr. Alyson McGregor defines male-centric medicine like this: medical research and medical practice based on models historically designed to work in men, while ignoring the unique biological/emotional differences between men and women. In fact, she writes that the male-centric model of medicine is now so pervasive in health care that many of us don’t even realize it exists:

“Women who experience severe pain often have trouble convincing the doctor treating them of how serious that pain is. The more women protest and try to convince the physician, the more their behaviour is perceived as hysterical. This perception can work against them in the Emergency Department.”

If that’s where you are, Dr. McGregor warns: “the best thing you can do as a woman is to bring an advocate with you to explain your symptoms.”         .   Continue reading “Must women bring an advocate along so doctors will believe us?”

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””

Diagnostic uncertainty: when we just don’t know

by Carolyn Thomas      @HeartSisters

The image above is all about uncertainty. It’s like a 5-step roadmap that you’d use when traveling an unfamiliar road to a new destination you know nothing about and do not want to visit.(1)  For people experiencing scary symptoms they fear might be heart-related, for example, uncertainty about what’s happening now and what will happen next is pervasive. But a new study published in the journal Patient Education and Counseling reminds us that patients aren’t the only ones facing uncertainty around a medical diagnosis: “Both patients and clinicians experience diagnostic uncertainty, but in different ways.”(2)        .        .   Continue reading “Diagnostic uncertainty: when we just don’t know”