How to avoid six common errors in motivating patients to change

by Carolyn Thomas   @HeartSisters 

In a classic understatement, U.K. researchers Drs. Michael Kelly and Mary Barker observed that “most efforts to change health behaviours have had limited success.”(1)

No kidding. Right now, even as you read this, academic researchers are applying for (and getting) grant funding to study smokers who don’t quit, couch potatoes who don’t get off the couch, or heart patients who stop taking their cardiac meds. I’m betting my next squirt of nitro spray that these studies will no doubt conclude that, yes indeed, those people DO need to change their behaviours, and “further study is required”.    .     . Continue reading “How to avoid six common errors in motivating patients to change”

Diagnostic error: will it go away if we just don’t talk about it?

by Carolyn Thomas     @HeartSisters   

As Audre Lorde once warned us:

“My silences have not protected me. Your silences will not protect you. Only one thing is more frightening than speaking your truth. And that is not speaking.”

I am exquisitely aware that when I write or speak about the subject of diagnostic error in medicine, some people will feel uncomfortable. It’s difficult to talk about being misdiagnosed in mid-heart attack and sent home from Emergency while somehow making that story sound flattering to the medical profession.        .    .  Continue reading “Diagnostic error: will it go away if we just don’t talk about it?”

Heart FAILURE vs. heart FUNCTION

by Carolyn Thomas     @HeartSisters   

A number of cardiologists seem to be revisiting the warnings of their late colleague Dr. Bernard Lown, who often cautioned physicians against using words that hurt – specifically, the name heart FAILURE * (what he termed “doom forecasting”).  Imagine being a patient hearing for the first time the words, “You have heart FAILURE.”  A terrifying – and worse, often inaccurate – name.  I’ve been told that changing the name of this condition would be impossible. But a recent editorial in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology has suddenly offered a glimmer of hope. 

Continue reading “Heart FAILURE vs. heart FUNCTION”

Auricular amputations of confectionary rabbits

by Carolyn Thomas    @HeartSisters  

Imagine a bright Easter Sunday, back in the mid-1950s. The sun is shining, church bells are ringing, cherry trees abloom, and I and my sister Cathy are decked out in our brand new matching pink Easter outfits. We have been invited out to lunch at the home of our friends, the Moskal family, after Easter Sunday Mass.

We enjoy a delicious lunch of baked ham, deviled eggs, potato salad and – our favourite! – traditional Easter paska, after which the children are dismissed from the table to play while our parents finish their coffee. And that’s when things suddenly go sideways. . .    .       . Continue reading “Auricular amputations of confectionary rabbits”

It’s a BOY!

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by Carolyn Thomas      @HeartSisters

Wonderful news for our whole family this weekend – my son now has a son of his own! A beautiful healthy baby boy, Zachary David Dunn, was born at 6:46 p.m. on March 27, 2021, weighing 8 pounds 8 ounces – a second grandchild for me (his Baba), a fourth for Grandma MaryAnn, a sweet baby cousin for Everly Rose, and the long-awaited precious first baby for ecstatically happy parents Paula and Ben, who are exhausted but over the moon!  Mum and babe both doing well. I can’t visit them in person or hold my little grandson because of COVID-19 precautions, but I can have a “window visit” from the hospital parking lot today!        .       .
Continue reading “It’s a BOY!”

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”