Learn or Blame: when mistakes happen in medicine

by Carolyn Thomas   ♥   @HeartSisters

Mistakes happen in medicine, just like in every other workplace. As intensive care physician and president of The Doctors’ Association UK (DAUK) Dr. Samantha Batt-Rawden reminded us in a BBC Newsnight interview:

“If patients are looking for a doctor who has never made a mistake, they simply won‘t find one.”       .          .         .

Continue reading “Learn or Blame: when mistakes happen in medicine”

Women’s heart disease: wrong symptoms, wrong words or wrong diagnostic tools?

by Carolyn Thomas    @HeartSisters   

I walked out of our local hospital’s Emergency Department after having my textbook heart attack symptoms misdiagnosed as acid reflux. Much later, my increasingly debilitating cardiac symptoms were finally correctly diagnosed (same hospital, different Emerg doc). But after my hospital discharge, my pushy family and friends kept asking me about that first visit to Emergency: “Why didn’t you demand to see a cardiologist? Why didn’t you ask for more tests?”

As I was soon to learn, that is so NOT how most health care systems work – especially for female patients.    .    .   Continue reading “Women’s heart disease: wrong symptoms, wrong words or wrong diagnostic tools?”

Women’s cardiac care: how do you think we’re doing?

by Carolyn Thomas     @HeartSisters

In their landmark review, Canadian heart researchers Dr. Karin Humphries and Dr. Louise Pilote answered this important question(1):

“Why are we examining women’s cardiovascular health in this issue of the Canadian Journal of Cardiology?”      .

Why indeed?  Some of their answers may surprise you. . .     .
Continue reading “Women’s cardiac care: how do you think we’re doing?”

Those curious cardiac enzymes

by Carolyn Thomas  ♥  @HeartSisters

When I showed up in the Emergency Department with textbook heart attack symptoms – central chest pain, nausea, sweating and pain radiating down my left arm – the hospital staff snapped to work and immediately ordered a flurry of diagnostic tests. These included an EKG (ECG, or electrocardiogram), blood tests, chest x-ray and a treadmill stress test. But all test results came back “normal”. I was then told that I was in the “right demographic” for acid reflux before being sent home – less than five hours after the onset of symptoms.

I left hospital that morning feeling terribly embarrassed for having made such a fuss over just a little case of indigestion.  It was only much later – after finally being correctly diagnosed, taken directly from the E.R. to O.R. and admitted to the cardiac intensive care unit for a myocardial infarction (MI, or heart attack) caused by a fully occluded Left Anterior Descending coronary artery – when I learned that my first “normal” blood tests may have been far less “normal” than I was told.  Continue reading “Those curious cardiac enzymes”

Researchers openly mock the ‘myth’ of women’s unique heart attack symptoms

by Carolyn Thomas  @HeartSisters

I was a woman on a mission while covering the proceedings of the 64th Annual Canadian Cardiovascular Congress in Vancouver.  Specifically, my mission was to track down researchers working in the area of women’s heart disease. They were, sadly, few and far between, my heart sisters, as I had to explain here earlier.

“Out of over 700 scientific papers presented at this conference, I could count on one hand the number that focused on women’s heart health.”

Luckily, I did track down Dr. Karin Humphries from the Centre for Health Evaluation and Outcome Sciences at St. Paul’s Hospital in Vancouver, and her University of British Columbia doctoral student Mona Izadnegahdar. Their paper found, not surprisingly, that women under age 55 fare worse than their male counterparts after a heart attack.(1)

While chatting with me about their findings, Dr. Humphries and Mona happened to mention the “popular misconception that women and men present with different heart attack symptoms”.   Continue reading “Researchers openly mock the ‘myth’ of women’s unique heart attack symptoms”

The sad reality of women’s heart disease hits home

by Carolyn Thomas  @HeartSisters

I’m nicely settled back home now after a few days across the pond in beautiful Vancouver, where I was covering the 64th Annual Canadian Cardiovascular Congress there for Heart Sisters readers.

My favourite things about this trip: the weather, walking the Vancouver sea wall, the mountains, the divine heart-smart food, the fabulously helpful Heart and Stroke Foundation staff at the Media Centre, and the fact that I somehow managed to p-a-c-e myself most days while trying to take care of my heart.

My least favourite thing: out of over 700 scientific papers presented at this conference, I could count on one hand those that focused even remotely on women’s heart disease. My question is: why? Continue reading “The sad reality of women’s heart disease hits home”