You know it’s Heart Month when facts and stats about heart disease start flooding our screens. But Heart Month facts and stats are so pre-COVID – when we also learned the truly discouraging results of the latest American Heart Association (AHA)’s national survey. This survey found that women’s awareness of heart disease actually DECLINED over the previous decade – despite all the inspiring Red Dress fashion shows/awareness-raising/Go-Red-for-Women campaign efforts out there. So instead of repeating more scary statistics as if I hadn’t read that survey’s results, this year for Heart Month, I’m again simply offering some weird stuff I’ve learned over the years about women and heart disease: . . Continue reading “Heart Month, and more weird facts about women and heart disease”
The freshly-diagnosed hospital patient often goes from the shock of being hospitalized to the shock of being sent home before we’re feeling quite ready to return there. .
Continue reading “Goodbye, hospital. Hello, home! And other scary things.”
My former colleagues in palliative care often spoke about the concept of hope as being a fluid, ever-changing state of being. When we’re suddenly face-to-face with a frightening medical crisis, for example, we hope at first that maybe the diagnostic tests were wrong. When the diagnosis is confirmed, we hope that this treatment/this procedure/ this drug will be the cure. But if we’re not cured, we hope that our symptoms can be managed so we don’t suffer. If we do get worse, we hope that our suffering won’t become a burden to our families. Then we hope that after we’re gone, our loved ones will be taken care of.
There was never talk about “no hope”. There is always hope. But our hope changes. . . Continue reading “False hope: better than no hope?”
I learned a terrific new word recently. The word is precarity, meaning the state of being precarious, unpredictable or uncertain. Any woman who is freshly diagnosed with heart disease already knows the precarity of life following a cardiac event – a reality that suddenly feels precarious, unpredictable and uncertain as we try to make sense of something that makes no sense. And after 19 months of navigating a global pandemic, we now know yet another kind of precarity. . . Continue reading “Precarity: the perfect word for our times”
Mistakes happen in medicine, just like in every other workplace. As intensive care physician and president of The Doctors’ Association UK (DAUK) Dr. Samantha Batt-Rawden reminded us in a BBC Newsnight interview:
“If patients are looking for a doctor who has never made a mistake, they simply won‘t find one.” . . .
I wrote last week about patients who tend to believe medical studies whose findings they like – but not so much if they don’t. Hardly surprisingly, many physicians may also tend to promote the results of studies when conclusions match their own clinical experience – and not so much if they don’t. That’s exactly what Dr. James Lind worried about, too – way back in the year 1753. Dr. Lind’s story may have been one of the earliest examples of what’s often called the “bench to bedside” delay between research findings and the time they take to ultimately trickle down to alter actual patient care. . . . Continue reading “A tale of two studies – 268 years apart”