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 ““A Typical Heart”: how YOU can help create this documentary!”
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 “Same heart attack, same misdiagnosis – but one big difference”
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 “But what about the men?”
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 “How implicit bias in medicine hurts women and minorities”
Last week, the disturbing results of a study on women and heart disease were released, attracting media headlines like Women and Heart Disease: New Data Reaffirms Lack of Awareness By Women and Physicians. I had to go have a wee lie-down after I read this paper in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology.(1)
The study’s lead author, cardiologist Dr. Noel Bairey Merz, of Cedars Sinai Heart Institute in Los Angeles, announced that “increasing awareness of cardiovascular disease in women has stalled with no major progress in almost 10 years”, and (far more intensely disturbing, in my opinion): “Little progress has been made in the last decade in increasing physician awareness or use of evidence-based guidelines to care for female heart patients.”
No wonder I had to lie down. But taking to one’s bed in response to yet another discouraging study about cardiology’s gender gap is no longer enough. Perhaps it’s time for female heart patients like me to simply throw our collective hands in the air while banging our heads against the nearest wall. Continue reading “Excuse me while I bang my head against this wall…”
by Carolyn Thomas ♥ @HeartSisters
Tragically, women may still come up short when it comes to the diagnosis and treatment of heart disease. Mayo Clinic’s Dr. Sharonne Hayes, cardiologist and founder of the Mayo Women’s Heart Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota spoke recently to staff from WomenHeart: The National Coalition for Women With Heart Disease .
Learn more here about why the inequities of this cardiology gender gap continue, and how women can empower themselves and others to achieve equal and quality care for their hearts: Continue reading “Heart disease – not just a man’s disease anymore”