Six rules for navigating your next doctor’s appointment

by Carolyn Thomas  ♥  @HeartSisters

A beautifully-dressed older woman with beautifully-coiffed hair raises one beautifully-manicured hand during the Q&A portion of my Heart-Smart Women presentation. She stands and asks aloud:

“Carolyn, my doctor told me I have a heart rhythm problem. What does that mean?”

What she wants is for me to explain to her what her doctor has not. But what I want to do is to grab her by her beautifully-clad shoulders and shake her, very hard. How is it possible, I wonder, that such an articulate, well-trotted-out woman doesn’t know what her own diagnosis means, and, worse, hasn’t gone back to her doctor to find out? How can she be capable of making decisions about her expensive wardrobe, hairstyle and nails, yet somehow still be incapable of staying on top of the most important thing she owns: her heart health?

Sadly, she is not alone.  A 2008 study of women over 40 done by The Federation of Medical Women of Canada called the LIPSTICK Survey reported that women spend more time thinking about their weight than they do about their hearts. And only 10% of women surveyed knew their personal heart disease risk factors versus the 64% of women who know how much they weighed in high school! Continue reading “Six rules for navigating your next doctor’s appointment”

How to communicate your heart symptoms to your doctor

by Carolyn Thomas

Here’s a news flash from the Prepared Patient forum of the Center For Advancing Health: your doctor is not a mind reader. And how you describe your symptoms can be just as important as what you describe. Physicians – and experienced heart patients – say you must be as detailed and descriptive as possible. For example:  Continue reading “How to communicate your heart symptoms to your doctor”

What do you call your doctor?

by Carolyn Thomas  ♥  @HeartSisters

Physician Dr. Anne Marie Valinoti, writing in the New York Times, explored the subject of exam room etiquette between doctor and patient, and specifically how they address each other.

“Since my early career, I have always been addressed as ‘Dr. Valinoti’. Freshly minted MDs, some as young as 25, get a title of respect – while seasoned nurses in the hospital are just Betty, Kaye or Nancy.

“I remembered the absurdity of this situation when, as a young intern, I was addressing critical care nurses with decades of experience by their first names, while they deferentially called me ‘Doctor.’  These were women who had started their careers when I was still playing with Barbie dolls, yet where were their professional titles?

“Like most things in medical training, I got used to it, and it became second nature.

“One thing I am still getting used to, though, is when patients call me by my first name. There seems to be a void in this area of etiquette: How does one address one’s physician? Continue reading “What do you call your doctor?”