Tag Archives: atrial fibrillation

Premenopausal women and cardiac symptoms

23 Jul
by Carolyn Thomas      @HeartSisters

Most of you throughout your adolescent and adult lives have no doubt observed that hormone fluctuations during a menstrual cycle can affect certain body parts on certain days of that cycle. These fluctuations cause symptoms ranging from bloating to cramps, vivid dreams, fatigue, acne breakouts, food cravings, or irritability. (That word ‘irritability’ is doctor-speak to describe the act of threatening spouses with homicide if they leave that freakin’ toilet seat up one more time…)

For decades, scientists have also observed that women’s risk of heart attack increases after menopause. One theory for this age-related delay (compared to male heart patients, who generally tend to have their heart attacks a decade or so before we do) was the drop in female hormones at menopause, particularly estrogen. That timing seemed to intuitively make sense. Estrogen levels go down, heart attack rates go up. It’s why physicians believed for a long time that hormone replacement therapy in postmenopausal women could actually prevent heart attacks. (PLEASE NOTE: it doesn’t.*) 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

Dr. John Mandrola: “AFib is your body talking to you”

10 Mar

by Carolyn Thomas  @HeartSisters

If you or somebody you care about has been diagnosed with Atrial Fibrillation (AF),  you likely already know this about the diagnosis: it’s an irregular heart rhythm affecting the heart’s upper chambers (the right and left atria) – and it’s also the most common heart-related reason for hospital admission. As Kentucky cardiologist Dr. John Mandrola likes to describe the disorder:

“AF is both a disease and a consequence of actions. It’s your body talking to you.”

Dr. John is a bike racer and one of my favourite writers in cardiology. As my heart sister Jaynie Martz once sized up his writing: “concise, charming, compassionately light, adult-to-adult, uber-digestible with nary a whiff of condescension or pomposity.” Amen, Jaynie.  His particular cardiac specialty is electrophysiology, the diagnosis and treatment of heart rhythm disorders. Here’s his overall take on the diagnosis of atrial fibrillation, as delivered to a Utah conference of his fellow electrophysiologists recently: Continue reading

A rock drummer’s take on atrial fibrillation

6 Oct

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The incidence of atrial fibrillation increases as we age, so be on notice, you Baby Boomers. It’s the most common heart rhythm condition, and it’s also the most common heart-related reason for hospital admission. And as shown in this 90-second Heart and Stroke Foundation film (featuring Toronto’s former Our Lady Peace drummer Jeremy Taggart), we should all know more about this heart rhythm condition, which can triple our risk of stroke.  Continue reading

Why are women with atrial fibrillation treated differently?

15 Apr

by Carolyn Thomas 

She is a 60-year old heart patient who wryly claims: “Catheter ablation is one of my favorite subjects!” After she underwent this treatment for her atrial fibrillation*, she healed surprisingly slowly, and her distressing episodes of high or irregular heart rate – averaging anywhere from 140-160 beats per minute – “came back full-time”.

She was also warned that these symptoms could last for months. She adds:

“I know how frustrating it is when doctors tell you that ablation is ‘The Answer’ and it turns out not to be.”

Sadly, she is not alone. Last year, cardiac researchers at St. David’s Hospital in Austin, Texas reported striking differences in the outcomes and complications of more than 3,200 women who underwent the cardiac procedure called Atrial Fibrillation Ablation*Continue reading