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“Never been sick in my life” – so how could she have a stroke?

11 Jun

by Carolyn Thomas    @HeartSisters

“The doctor showed me an x-ray of my brain. He pointed to a small spot and told me, ‘That’s where the blood vessel burst in your brain!’ It was surreal.”

My heart sister Dina Piersawl (affectionately known to some of us as Dee Mad Scientist) had just celebrated her 41st birthday when she survived an ischemic stroke. A professional scientist – and a former athlete and personal trainer in Chicago who describes herself as “never been sick in my life” – Dina sure didn’t look or feel like any stereotypical stroke patient you might imagine. Continue reading

It’s official! Housework is bad for your heart

15 Jan

Prepare yourself, ladies, for yet another news flash from the Department of the Bleedin’ Obvious. . . A research team at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine tracked both male and female full-time workers, particularly the number of hours they worked outside the home, the work they did in the home, and the responsibility they felt for doing the housework.(1) They then examined the links between housework and health issues such as raised blood pressure. High blood pressure has long been identified as a risk factor in heart disease, so pay attention if you’re the person in your home who’s responsible for most of your housework. Continue reading

How these doctors have saved thousands of women

6 Nov

by Carolyn Thomas

A guest post by Dr. Annabelle Santos Volgman, McMullan-Eybel Chair for Excellence in Clinical Cardiology, Professor of Medicine, Rush College of Medicine, and Medical Director, Rush Heart Center for Women, Rush University Medical Center, Chicago, IL; and Marissa Bergman, Associate Editor, Today’s Chicago Woman

“2013 was the first year since 1984 that fewer women died of heart disease than men(1)—despite being viewed as solely a man’s health issue. This decline was the result of the tireless work of a small group of women who have dedicated their lives to eradicating this misunderstanding and unequal treatment of women’s heart disease. Continue reading

Does your hospital have a Women’s Heart Clinic yet? If not, why not?

16 Oct

by Carolyn Thomas    @HeartSisters

teacup-heartFocused Cardiovascular Care for Women is the name of an important report about women’s heart health published in February of this year. One of the report’s highlights (or lowlights!) was that very few if any hospitals actually offered focused cardiac care specifically for women before the year 2000.(1) One reason for this may have been that, as the report’s authors explained, “the concept of Women’s Heart Clinics was met with hesitation from many cardiologists.”

Yes, you read that right, ladies. Until recently, even the very idea of establishing a heart clinic devoted to the unique realities of the female body was not warmly welcomed by the very physicians you’d think would be most supportive.  Continue reading

Pregnancy complications strongly linked to heart disease

14 Aug

by Carolyn Thomas    @HeartSisters

My pre-eclampsia baby Ben, age 2, with his Mum, visiting Yellowknife, NWT, Canada

When I was about eight months pregnant with Ben, my first baby, I was diagnosed with something called preeclampsia. This is a serious condition affecting about 5% of pregnant women, identified by symptoms like sudden spikes in blood pressure, protein in the urine, severe swelling and headaches or vision problems. It’s also women’s third leading pregnancy-related cause of death. Preeclampsia is clinically described as:

“…a disorder of widespread vascular endothelial malfunction and vasospasm that occurs after 20 weeks’ gestation”.

Whenever you see the words “vascular” or “endothelial” or “vasospasm” in the same sentence, you know you’re likely talking about the heart. And although preeclampsia typically goes away after pregnancy, its diagnosis may well be an early indicator of underlying heart conditions that may simmer for decades. In fact, studies now show that pregnant women who develop preeclampsia have more than twice the risk of having a heart attack or stroke later in life.

And that is what happened to me. Continue reading