Is it finally time to change the name ‘heart FAILURE’?

by Carolyn Thomas      @HeartSisters

When McMaster University cardiologist Dr. Harriette Van Spall asked her Twitter followers recently to offer topic suggestions for the upcoming Heart Failure Summit, I responded with a suggestion of my own:

“Please please please can we STOP calling this condition heart FAILURE?”    .

Continue reading “Is it finally time to change the name ‘heart FAILURE’?”

Signals, noise, context – and your doctor’s brain

     .    . Emergency physician, professor, author, and patient safety expert Dr. Pat Croskerry

by Carolyn Thomas      @HeartSisters 

Emergency physician Dr. Pat Croskerry tells the story of the day he misdiagnosed a patient who was experiencing unstable anginachest pain caused by coronary artery disease, and often a warning sign of oncoming heart attack. But this is what he’d said before sending that patient home:

“I’m not at all worried about your chest pain. You probably overexerted yourself and strained a muscle. My suspicion that this is coming from your heart is about zero.”

In a later interview with Dr. Jerome Groopman (author of a book I love called How Doctors Think), Dr. Croskerry explained how easily that misdiagnosis happened: Continue reading “Signals, noise, context – and your doctor’s brain”

Cognitive dread: the painful uncertainty of waiting

by Carolyn Thomas      @HeartSisters 

I live on an island, so we’re often dependent on the ferries that carry islanders to the mainland and back. And because this is Canada’s west coast, high winds or rough seas can very occasionally cause sudden sailing delays or outright cancellations. When this happens, we often don’t know when sailings will resume, and nobody can tell us. Uncertainty like this about what daily life will bring includes both the routinely ordinary (what’s causing this traffic jam?) and the potentially important (when will my test results come in? This state of uncertainty is what psychologists often call “cognitive dread”.    . Continue reading “Cognitive dread: the painful uncertainty of waiting”

Four ways we use online info to make healthcare decisions

by Carolyn Thomas     @HeartSisters 

Remember that unfortunate Don’t Google It! campaign a few years back in which the Belgian government sought to warn patients against seeking health info online? Three of the (many) assumptions in that offensive campaign included:

  • patients are stupid
  • patients are not already online seeking input on all kinds of daily questions, big and small
  • all patients behave the same way (e.g. like hysterical hypochondriacs)

Too bad the creators of this campaign weren’t familiar with the results of an interesting study that challenged those assumptions.      .  Continue reading “Four ways we use online info to make healthcare decisions”

The Grinch’s Guide to Women’s Heart Attacks (with apologies to Dr. Seuss)

by Carolyn Thomas  @HeartSisters

(with apologies to Dr. Seuss)

.

Chest pain can make women WORRY a lot,

Yet when women seek help, some are told they should not.

Anxiety, maybe – you’re stressed by the season!

“Your tests all look fine!”  No one quite knows the reason.

It could be that these tests weren’t researched on them.

(And, really – aren’t women small versions of men?)

It could be that Grinch docs think women are lying

Or making up symptoms, without even trying.

Continue reading “The Grinch’s Guide to Women’s Heart Attacks (with apologies to Dr. Seuss)”

“There is no gender bias in medicine. Because I said so…”

by Carolyn Thomas   @HeartSisters 

When my heart sister Katherine Leon was featured in The New York Times earlier this year, I was thrilled. 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 textbook cardiac symptoms had first been dismissed by doctors who told her, “There’s nothing wrong with you.”     .
Continue reading ““There is no gender bias in medicine. Because I said so…””