Hypervigilance: waiting for that second heart attack

kittyWaiting

by Carolyn Thomas  @HeartSisters    September 9, 2018

Until I had a heart attack, I didn’t know that one of the biggest risk factors for having a cardiac event like mine is having already had one. Heart disease, a chronic and progressive diagnosis, is the gift that keeps on giving. And as I wrote here, one of the Big Lessons for me has been that, although my doctors can “squish blockages, burn rogue electrical circuits, and implant lifesaving devices”, their heroic efforts do not address what originally caused this damage to my coronary arteries in the first place – likely decades before my heart attack struck.  See also: The Cure Myth

In fact, women are twice as likely to have a second heart attack in the six years following the first compared to our male counterparts.(1)  No wonder sobering stats like this can drive the freshly-diagnosed heart patient to an exhausting and fearful state of acute hypervigilance. Continue reading “Hypervigilance: waiting for that second heart attack”

Are you a victim or a survivor?

by Carolyn Thomas  @HeartSisters

In Dr. Wayne Sotile’s very useful book for all freshly-diagnosed heart patients called Thriving With Heart Disease, he nails the description of what he calls the patient’s homecoming blues.  It’s that need to adjust from being cared for 24/7 in hospital following a cardiac event to suddenly being booted out the door and sent back home. For example:

“You’re now home from the hospital, and you’re expected to surf a bewildering wave of emotions, anxieties and procedures.

“Moving very slowly, bouts of depression, weeping, social withdrawal or obsessive anxiety about dying – these are all normal during the early stages of heart disease.”

Normal or not, I found “obsessive anxiety about dying” to be an extremely unpleasant way to live in the days following my own heart attack.  Continue reading “Are you a victim or a survivor?”

Hypervigilance: waiting for that second heart attack

binocularsby Carolyn Thomas  ♥  @HeartSisters

Until I had a heart attack, I didn’t know that one of the biggest risk factors for having a cardiac event like mine is having already had one. Heart disease, a chronic and progressive diagnosis, is the gift that just keeps on giving. And as I wrote here, one of the Big Lessons for me has been that, although my doctors can “squish blockages, burn rogue electrical circuits, and implant lifesaving devices” all they like, their heroic efforts do not address what originally caused this damage to my coronary arteries in the first place – likely decades before my heart attack struck.  See also: The Cure Myth

In fact, one in four women who survive a first heart attack will die within the following year, most often of cardiac arrest or another heart attack, according to the National Institutes of Health. And women are twice as likely to have a second heart attack in the six years following the first compared to our male counterparts.

No wonder sobering stats like these can drive the freshly-diagnosed heart patient to an exhausting and fearful state of acute hypervigilance.
Continue reading “Hypervigilance: waiting for that second heart attack”