Behaviour change: if it’s so ‘easy’, why do so many studies show it won’t last?

by Carolyn Thomas      @HeartSisters

Many centuries ago, while I was a volunteer run leader at our local YM-YWCA annual Marathon Run Clinic, my assigned running group each January was the 10-minute milers, whom I affectionately dubbed The Turtles. Our motto: “No course too short, no pace too slow.”   My group members were typically either former runners slowly returning after an injury, or people who were brand new to running. The newbies were as enthusiastic as their freshly-made New Year’s resolutions:  one, for example, declared to me that this was the year that he was finally going to quit smoking, lose 30 pounds, and run a marathon.

To which I replied: “Honey, pick ONE. . .”     .           .  Continue reading “Behaviour change: if it’s so ‘easy’, why do so many studies show it won’t last?”

“Be alert to both the absence of normal as well as the presence of abnormal”

by Carolyn Thomas      @HeartSisters

It isn’t often that I’m wide awake at 1 a.m. But sometimes, a dream or a fire truck siren or whatever jolts me so wide awake in the middle of the night that sleep seems suddenly impossible. When this does happen, I’ve learned that I can sometimes lull myself back to sleep by turning on my bedside radio. (Radios! Remember those?)  My old clock radio is tuned permanently to CBC, our national Canadian broadcaster. And 1 a.m. is when CBC runs the Public Radio International program called “The World” . I love that show.

It isn’t often that I hear something on The World so perfectly applicable to women’s heart attacks that I’m moved to sit up in bed, grab a Sharpie and the little stack of post-it notes beside said radio, and quickly scribble down the words before I forget what’s just been said. But this was one of those times.         .    .    Continue reading ““Be alert to both the absence of normal as well as the presence of abnormal””

How I used to describe SCAD. And what I’ve learned since.

by Carolyn Thomas    @HeartSisters

I’d never heard of the heart condition called Spontaneous Coronary Artery Dissection (SCAD) until I attended the WomenHeart Science & Leadership patient advocacy training at Mayo Clinic in 2008.  SCAD, I learned back then, was a rare and often fatal condition, seen mostly in young, healthy women who have few if any cardiac risk factors. But in a recent interview, cardiologists who specialize in this frequently misunderstood diagnosis added some surprising updates to what is now known about SCAD.     .        . Continue reading “How I used to describe SCAD. And what I’ve learned since.”

Did you underestimate your cardiac risk?

by Carolyn Thomas     @HeartSisters

GREEHEARTI was once asked by a U.S. publisher to review a new book written by a heart patient, a memoir about her surprising diagnosis.  But about 12 pages in, she mentioned that she had been a chain-smoker for three decades before her “surprising” cardiac diagnosis.  I had to re-read that line. How could a person who had been chain smoking for decades possibly be “surprised” by this predictable outcome? Didn’t this clearly intelligent, educated woman know that smoking is a dangerous risk factor for heart disease (and a whole bunch of other nasty health issues)?   I thought of this book recently when a new study from Harvard researcher Dr. Catherine Kreatsoulas reported that women are in fact more likely than men to underestimate their own risk of heart disease.    .        .       .       .         .         . Continue reading “Did you underestimate your cardiac risk?”

How could YOU – of all people! – have a heart attack?

by Carolyn Thomas   @HeartSisters

I’ve come to learn that a common reaction to a heart attack is others’ utter shock that this could happen to “YOU, OF ALL PEOPLE!”  Women in particular report reactions like this because, generally speaking, we’re used to being the strong glue that holds our family life and relationships together.

How dare we get sick. . .      .          .          .     Continue reading “How could YOU – of all people! – have a heart attack?”

Change your story, change the storyteller

by Carolyn Thomas     @HeartSisters 

I encounter a lot of patient stories from my Heart Sisters blog readers here, as well as from the women who raise a hand during my Heart-Smart Women public presentations. A heart patient’s story can at first kick off with a profound this-can’t-be-happening-to-me sense of disbelief as we try to make sense out of something that makes no sense at all. Telling the story to others helps us do this at first. “How did this happen?”  demand our worried family and friends while we lie there, overwhelmed. And thus our storytelling begins.       .      .    Continue reading “Change your story, change the storyteller”