Tag Archives: cardiology gender gap

Is ‘being nice’ hurting women?

30 Sep

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

“A Typical Heart”: how YOU can help create this documentary!

30 Jul

by Carolyn Thomas    @HeartSisters    July 30, 2018

Do you sometimes wish that everybody (and their healthcare providers) were more aware of the unique differences in male and female heart disease? ….  I know you do! Cristina D’Alessandro is a Toronto-area paramedic and healthcare researcher who has that same wish. She’s a healthcare professional who, like so many of us, is concerned about what’s known as the cardiology gender gap in diagnosing and treating women’s heart disease. She asks, for example, this brilliant question: 

“In paramedic school, they teach us about the ‘atypical’ signs of a woman’s heart attack. But why exactly do they call it ‘atypical’ when women are more than half the population?”

Continue reading

Same heart attack, same misdiagnosis – but one big difference

4 Feb

by Carolyn Thomas  ♥  @HeartSisters   February 4, 2018

Our two stories are freakishly the same in so many ways:

In 58-year old Nancy Bradley’s story, she went to the Emergency Department at the Royal Inland Hospital near her home in Kamloops as soon as she felt alarming symptoms she knew might be heart-related: dizziness, sweating, shortness of breath and “an elephant sitting on my chest” feeling. (In my story, I was 58 as well, and I went to Emergency at the Royal Jubilee Hospital near my home in Victoria as soon as my own alarming heart attack symptoms started).

All of Nancy’s cardiac diagnostic tests seemed to be “normal”. (All of my diagnostic tests seemed to be “normal”, too).

Nancy’s Emergency physician suspected heartburn, and suggested she take antacid drugs. (My Emergency physician suspected heartburn, and suggested that I take antacids).  Continue reading

But what about the men?

21 Jan

by Carolyn Thomas 

The irreverent Laura Haywood-Cory of North Carolina is, like me, a heart attack survivor and, also like me, a graduate of Mayo Clinic’s WomenHeart Science & Leadership Symposium for Women With Heart Disease in Rochester, Minnesota (where she’s also attended the Mayo Clinic Social Media Summit, too!)

Her own dramatic heart story is that of an often deadly condition usually seen in young, healthy women with few if any known cardiac risk factors: Spontaneous Coronary Artery Dissection or SCAD. I’m happy to say she has been making a heroic effort to beat this sucker into the ground – just one year after surviving her heart attack at age 40, Laura completed the Chapel Hill Ramblin’ Rose Triathlon. It’s her unique take on a surprisingly frequent response to women’s heart disease that I want to share with you today:  Continue reading

How implicit bias in medicine hurts women and minorities

17 Sep

by Carolyn Thomas    @HeartSisters

It’s discouraging. I’ve read (and written) far too much about how the gender gap in cardiology has resulted in women heart patients being at higher risk of being both under-diagnosed compared to our male counterparts, and then under-treated even when we’re appropriately diagnosed (here, here and here, for example). Studies even suggest that when physicians review case studies in which patients present with significant cardiac symptoms as well as a recent emotionally upsetting event (identical except for the patients’ male or female names), the doctors are significantly more likely to determine that a man’s symptoms are heart-related, but a woman’s symptoms are just due to the emotional upset.(1)

But what’s been missing in this acknowledged gender gap seems to be the most important part: why is this happening, and what can we do to actually address it? Continue reading