“There is no gender bias in medicine. Because I said so…”

by Carolyn Thomas   @HeartSisters 

When my heart sister Katherine Leon was featured in The New York Times earlier this year, I was thrilled. Katherine, like me, is a graduate of the WomenHeart Science & Leadership patient advocacy training at Mayo Clinic. She told the Times of undergoing emergency coronary bypass surgery at age 38, several days after her textbook cardiac symptoms had first been dismissed by doctors who told her, “There’s nothing wrong with you.”     .
Continue reading ““There is no gender bias in medicine. Because I said so…””

Is SCAD rare? Or just rarely diagnosed correctly?

by Carolyn Thomas   @HeartSisters    February 10, 2019

I was happy to see Katherine Leon featured in The New York Times recently. Katherine, like me, is a graduate of the WomenHeart Science & Leadership patient advocacy training at Mayo Clinic. She told the Times of undergoing emergency coronary bypass surgery at age 38, several days after her severe cardiac symptoms had been dismissed by doctors who told her, “There’s nothing wrong with you.”

She isn’t alone. Many, many studies have shown that female heart patients are significantly more likely to be under-diagnosed – and worse, often under-treated even when appropriately diagnosed – compared to our male counterparts. This is especially true for women with her condition (Spontaneous Coronary Artery Dissection, or SCAD) that was once considered to be a rare disease.

Dr. Sharonne Hayes is also featured in the NYT piece; she’s a respected Mayo Clinic cardiologist, longtime SCAD researcher and founder of the Mayo Women’s Heart Clinic. (You can read their story here).

But almost as soon as the Times piece was published online, I was gobsmacked to see some of the reader comments coming in – especially comments from people like these:     . Continue reading “Is SCAD rare? Or just rarely diagnosed correctly?”

Dr. Martha Gulati’s fabulous foreword to my book

by Carolyn Thomas   @HeartSisters  ♥  June 24, 2018

Dr. Martha Gulati

When you open a non-fiction book, you’ll likely find a section called the foreword, written by somebody who is not the book’s author. It addresses a reader’s questions about the book: Why is the author of this book particularly qualified to write it? What will I gain or learn by reading this book?

The Chicago Manual of Style writing guide describes a foreword as “written by someone eminent to lend credibility to the book”. 

I needed to find someone eminent (definition: famous, respected, important) to agree to write the foreword for A Woman’s Guide to Living With Heart Disease because, unlike other heart books out there written by cardiologists, my heart book was written by a heart patient with zero medical training. To many, that translates as zero credibility. Continue reading “Dr. Martha Gulati’s fabulous foreword to my book”

Same heart attack, same misdiagnosis – but one big difference

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”

When are cardiologists going to start talking about depression?

by Carolyn Thomas    ♥   @HeartSisters

I can vividly remember those early days and weeks at home after surviving a heart attack, especially that cold creeping anxiety around how I “should” be feeling. I had just survived what many do not: what doctors still call the “widow maker” heart attack. (By the way, note the gender semantics there, please: doctors are not, after all, calling this the widower maker”).

I was now resting comfortably, both of my darling kidlets had flown back home to be with their Mum, our home was filled with flowers, get-well cards and casseroles delivered by the daily line-up of concerned friends, family, neighbours and co-workers.

So why was I feeling so bleak inside, and even worse, now feeling guilty for all that bleakness?  Continue reading “When are cardiologists going to start talking about depression?”