Fewer lights/sirens when a woman heart patient is in the ambulance

by Carolyn Thomas   @HeartSisters    January 13, 2019

emsI sometimes think that, during the almost 10 years I’ve been writing about women’s heart disease research, diagnostics and treatment, I’ve heard it all when it comes to women being under-diagnosed and under-treated (yes, sometimes under-treated even when appropriately diagnosed!)  I thought I was unshockable by now. But a study published last month in the journal, Women’s Health Issues (WHI) was indeed a shocker.    .
Continue reading “Fewer lights/sirens when a woman heart patient is in the ambulance”

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

by Carolyn Thomas    @HeartSisters  December 23, 2018

(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)”

Skin in the game: taking women’s cardiac misdiagnosis seriously

by Carolyn Thomas     @HeartSisters    December 16, 2018

Our physicians are highly trained experts in providing medical care, but it’s their patients who have “skin in the game”This odd phrase is believed to have originated in the financial sector to describe senior investment advisors who demonstrate their confidence in a company by putting their own money (their own “skin”) into the company in order to build investor confidence. So if stock prices fall, they stand to lose – just like their clients will. Advisors who choose not to do this may be every bit as smart, but they have no skin in the game.  Continue reading “Skin in the game: taking women’s cardiac misdiagnosis seriously”

Dr. Google in the E.R.

 by Carolyn Thomas  @HeartSisters    November 25, 2018

Once upon a time, whenever the good citizens of Belgium experienced puzzling symptoms (let’s say, “twitching eyelids”), they would turn to Dr. Google to find out what might be causing the symptoms. But the Belgian government, concerned about false and scary health information online, came up with a public awareness campaign that warned: “Don’t Google It. Check a reliable source!” This also included a referral link to a government health site that could help to correctly answer questions about twitching eyelids and several other health issues.

This campaign was what patient activist Dave de Bronkart (aka ePatient Dave) bluntly described at the time as spectacularly wrong, insulting, misinformed and wrong-headed. Continue reading “Dr. Google in the E.R.”

My book is one year old! Some excerpts to tease you…

 

by Carolyn Thomas  @HeartSisters    November 18, 2018

What a year it’s been since my book was published by Johns Hopkins University Press one year ago this month! When it was launched, A Woman’s Guide to Living with Heart Diseasebecame Amazon’s #1 New Release in the Medicine/Public Health category. The book is already into its second printing, and reviews have been truly wonderful (with one notable exception: an Australian reader named Robert who complained in his Goodreads review that there was a bit too much emphasis on how women are neglected when it comes to heart disease” – and then added: “Happily for me, my doctors, nurses and physios did everything by the book.” Thank you Robert, for helping to illustrate the cardiology gender gap so perfectly!

To celebrate this one-year milestone (and entice you to buy the book for yourself, or as a really useful gift for a freshly-diagnosed woman you care about), here are some random excerpts from my book, gathered from each of the 10 chapters.
Continue reading “My book is one year old! Some excerpts to tease you…”

Is ‘being nice’ hurting women?

by Carolyn Thomas    @HeartSisters    September 30, 2018

Imagine the reaction from Emergency Department staff to the woman I met at my Mayo Clinic training, the one who had been sent home from Emergency three days in a row despite her complaints of increasingly distressing cardiac symptoms. Each time she arrived there, she clearly declared the following to the Emergency physician, who continued to repeatedly dismiss her concerns:

“I don’t care what you say. SOMETHING is wrong with me!”

What a royal pain in the ass, staff may have muttered about her, sotto voce.

On her third visit, the physician recommended anti-anxiety medications. But on the fourth visit, on that fourth day, she was taken directly from the E.R. to the O.R. to undergo emergency coronary bypass surgery. Continue reading “Is ‘being nice’ hurting women?”