Panic attack – or heart attack?

by Carolyn Thomas    @HeartSisters 

For most of us, feelings of anxiety or panic are occasional, mild and brief – the body’s 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 “Panic attack – or heart attack?”

Women’s heart attacks (still!) more likely misdiagnosed than men’s

by Carolyn Thomas     @HeartSisters   

My interest in women’s misdiagnosed heart attacks began after my own misdiagnosed heart attack. Despite textbook cardiac symptoms of central chest pain, nausea, profuse sweating and pain down my left arm, I was confidently told: “You’re in the right demographic for acid reflux!” – and sent home from the Emergency Department. 

I know that, had I been appropriately diagnosed and treated on that fateful day, I’d have little interest in this topic. But I wasn’t. So I do.     .         .    Continue reading “Women’s heart attacks (still!) more likely misdiagnosed than men’s”

Women’s heart disease: wrong symptoms, wrong words or wrong diagnostic tools?

by Carolyn Thomas    @HeartSisters   

I walked out of our local hospital’s Emergency Department after having my textbook heart attack symptoms misdiagnosed as acid reflux. Much later, my increasingly debilitating cardiac symptoms were finally correctly diagnosed (same hospital, different Emerg doc). But after my hospital discharge, my pushy family and friends kept asking me about that first visit to Emergency: “Why didn’t you demand to see a cardiologist? Why didn’t you ask for more tests?”

As I was soon to learn, that is so NOT how most health care systems work – especially for female patients.    .    .   Continue reading “Women’s heart disease: wrong symptoms, wrong words or wrong diagnostic tools?”

The weirdest stuff I’ve learned about women’s heart disease

by Carolyn Thomas     @HeartSisters

You know it’s Heart Month when scary facts about the dangers of heart disease start flooding our screens. But that kind of Heart Month messaging is so pre-COVID – long before September when we learned the shocking results of the American Heart Association’s national survey.  This survey found that women’s awareness of heart disease has actually declined – NOT improved at all! – over the past decade, despite all the inspiring Red Dress-awareness-raising-Go-Red-for-Women campaign efforts out there.  

So instead of repeating more scary facts as if I hadn’t read that survey’s results,  I’m simply offering some weird stuff I’ve learned over the years about women and heart disease:    .         .     Continue reading “The weirdest stuff I’ve learned about women’s heart disease”

Cardiac research and the mystery of the missing facts

by Carolyn Thomas    @HeartSisters

Over the years, I’ve had to teach myself the bare bone basics of interpreting cardiac studies. I’m certainly no research scientist (although I did spend 20 years of my life with one – does that count at all?) but I can tell you that one good place I like to start is the methodology section of any study.

Wait!  Don’t leave yet!   I know, I know, this may seem crushingly dull. But the methods info is how I learned, for example, that out of over 5,000 participants recruited for the $100 million ISCHEMIA study in 2019, only 23 per cent were women. At the time, I offered a helpful editing suggestion to the Washington Post about their sensational coverage of ISCHEMIA (“Stents and Bypass Surgery are No More Effective Than Drugs!!” ) by requesting this important clarifier added to the end of that headline: FOR MEN!”       .        .     Continue reading “Cardiac research and the mystery of the missing facts”

Saying the word “misdiagnosis” is not doctor-bashing

by Carolyn Thomas     @HeartSisters   
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Before my cardiac symptoms forced an early retirement, my entire adult career was spent in the field of public relations, in corporate, government and non-profit sectors. Which is to say I’ve had decades of firsthand experience speaking publicly on behalf of all kinds of people. I was paid to both defend the indefensible stupidity of certain industry presidents, and also to pitch engaging human interest stories to help promote good causes.
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But it was only when I started voluntarily speaking out on behalf of other female heart patients that I encountered any real backlash – and that came from the most unlikely sources.       .          .  Continue reading “Saying the word “misdiagnosis” is not doctor-bashing”