Tag Archives: cardiac risk factors

Are you a heart attack waiting to happen?

29 Mar

by Carolyn Thomas    @HeartSisters

I was asked last year by a large U.S. publisher to review a new book written by a woman who had recently become a heart patient. I enjoyed reading the first chapter or two until I came to the New York author’s dramatic story of the actual cardiac event itself. The part that left me gobsmacked was not the event, but her abject shock and disbelief that she (of all people!) could be experiencing a heart attack at all.  The pervasive “Why me? Why me?” focus in this chapter clearly ignored a reality that the author had somehow chosen to gloss over: she’d been a heavy smoker for several decades.

Don’t get me wrong. Any cardiac event is indeed a traumatic occurrence no matter who and when it strikes. Sometimes, we truly have no hint about the cause of said event. And my immediate gut reaction was not meant to mock this author, or minimize her experience (which was awful). 

But I felt honestly surprised that she was surprised. Here was an intelligent, educated woman who’d been actively and relentlessly engaged year after year after year in one of the most well-known and downright dangerous risk factors for cardiovascular disease out there yet she’s surprised?

Cigarette smoking is considered the most important preventable cause of premature death in North America. So how is it even possible she would not know this? How is it possible that she would have no clue that her heavy smoking was damaging her heart? Continue reading

Surprising trends in women’s heart disease

30 Jun

by Carolyn Thomas  ♥ @HeartSisters

During the 1980s, the American Heart Association launched an advertising campaign that asked: “If your husband had a heart attack in bed tonight, would you know what to do?” Even the AHA thought heart disease was strictly a man’s problem back then.

Offering this valuable historical perspective, Kansas City cardiologist Dr. Tracy Stevens reminds us that physicians are still practicing medicine based on cardiac studies performed mostly on white, middle-aged men.
Continue reading

Do you know the new heart health guidelines for women?

18 Feb

Consumer Reports Health has released an alert about new guidelines for preventing heart disease in women, identifying certain risk factors that are especially important or unique to women, and some preventive measures that are not useful, including some supplements.

For example, the guidelines, provided by the American Heart Association, say there’s no reason to take supplemental doses of antioxidants such as vitamins C or E to prevent heart disease. Continue reading

Heart attack: did you bring this on yourself?

14 Nov

food junk

by Carolyn Thomas @HeartSisters

In the early hours, days and weeks following my heart attack, many conversations with family and friends started the same way: “How could this have happened to YOU?” – followed by an expectant pause during which I was supposed to explain myself.  If only I’d been a chain-smoker, or had been living with diabetes, or hadn’t been a distance runner for almost 20 years.   It would have somehow seemed more comforting to them, because it might mean that my heart disease was self-inflicted, that something like this could never touch them.  Continue reading

One-minute quiz: women at risk for heart disease

3 Oct

smoking old lady

by Carolyn Thomas    @HeartSisters

Are you a ticking time bomb when it comes to your risks of having a heart attack? Tick away here instead – tick all statements in the quiz below that apply to you.   Continue reading

Why are heart patients who smoke leaving hospital still smoking?

16 Aug

by Carolyn Thomas @HeartSisters

If you ever needed a swift smack upside the head to convince you to finally stop smoking once and for all, you’d think that a heart attack would do it.

Hospitalized survivors, shocked and traumatized, are already lying there in the cardiac ward unable to light up, and certainly prohibited from smoking anywhere inside the hospital buildings. In some regions, smoking is even banned on hospital grounds, thus requiring a long walk clear across the street, if the patient is even mobile, with the attractive hospital gown flapping in the wind behind. These smokers are already well underway, whether they’d planned it or not, to quitting cold turkey. So why are they starting up again by the time they get home?

Are there any smokers alive out there who are not already aware that smoking is likely what landed them in that cardiac ward in the first place?  Just in case there are, here’s why smoking is so damaging to the heart:  Continue reading