Would you drive your car if its brakes were “failing”?

by Carolyn Thomas      @HeartSisters

Imagine your mechanic telling you that your brakes are failing. Would you voluntarily get behind the wheel of that car – and then happily drive it home? Of course you wouldn’t.  Yet right now, as you are reading these words, doctors around the world in a medical office or hospital clinic somewhere out there are casually saying out loud the words “HEART FAILURE” to diagnose people who will leave that place feeling scared to death.   .   Continue reading “Would you drive your car if its brakes were “failing”?”

Two years spent connected to her “heart lifeline”

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Monica McFarlan was a runner, a mother of two young boys, and a very healthy 37-year-old woman when she was diagnosed with congestive heart failure, associated with viral cardiomyopathy in January 2011.

For the next 3½ months, Monica was in and out of the hospital 11 times for over 45 days. By April, she and her family were told that she needed a heart transplant, and she was put on the transplant waiting list. But because her antibodies were elevated, she had to be taken off the transplant list because of the high risk that her body would reject any donor heart that was given to her. Continue reading “Two years spent connected to her “heart lifeline””

How does it really feel to have a heart attack? Women survivors answer that question

by Carolyn Thomas  ♥  @HeartSisters

Having a heart attack felt nothing like I thought it would feel.   For one thing, unlike sudden cardiac arrest, in which the heart stops beating and you stop breathing, during my heart attack (myocardial infarction), my heart continued beating, and I was walking, talking and conscious throughout despite horrific symptoms – so how could I possibly be having a heart attack?

Like most women, I’d never really thought about my heart – except maybe when running up that killer Quadra Street hill with my running group. Yet heart disease kills six times more women than breast cancer each year (in fact, it kills more women than all forms of cancer combined).

Women need to know all the potential symptoms of a heart attack – both typical and atypical. And by the way, I’ve stopped using the word “atypical to describe any non-chest pain symptom that women experience during a heart attack, because as paramedic and documentary filmmaker (“A Typical Heart“) Cristina D’Alessandro likes to say: 

“Why are our cardiac symptoms called ‘atypical’ when women are more than half the population?”

I asked some female survivors to share their very first symptoms. Their heart attack stories may surprise you:

Read their stories