Tag Archives: Heart and Stroke Foundation
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“Never been sick in my life” – so how could she have a stroke?

11 Jun

by Carolyn Thomas    @HeartSisters

“The doctor showed me an x-ray of my brain. He pointed to a small spot and told me, ‘That’s where the blood vessel burst in your brain!’ It was surreal.”

My heart sister Dina Piersawl (affectionately known to some of us as Dee Mad Scientist) had just celebrated her 41st birthday when she survived an ischemic stroke. A professional scientist – and a former athlete and personal trainer in Chicago who describes herself as “never been sick in my life” – Dina sure didn’t look or feel like any stereotypical stroke patient you might imagine. Continue reading

Cathy’s stroke: “Nobody noticed my husband”

20 Nov

                                   What to look for during a stroke

Guest post by Cathy Aumack-Bandy *

We all know someone who has had a stroke. For many, it’s a friend. For some, a relative. A spouse? A partner? A parent? Maybe even a child.

Stroke is one of those events that most people fear – and rightly so. Maybe it’s because so many times, it seems to come out of nowhere. It strikes a person down without warning. And, once it makes an appearance, stroke shows no mercy. It leaves much in its ruin. It changes people. It changes lives forever – and that’s even in the best case scenario. Continue reading

Two ways to portray heart failure. One of them works.

13 Mar
Screen Shot 2016-02-10 at 4.25.29 PM
  EXAMPLE #1: Sisters and heart failure patients Shaun Rivers (left) and Kimberly Ketter

by Carolyn Thomas     @HeartSisters

If you were suddenly diagnosed with heart failure, you would first of all be utterly horrified by hearing those words “heart failure” – which brings me to the eternal question: when are cardiologists going to come up with a better name for this common condition in which a person’s heart has trouble pumping blood as well as it should? (See also: “When Doctors Use Words That Hurt“)

I hope that the second thing that happens after you hear those dreadful words is that somebody will immediately show you this beautiful photo (above) of twin sisters Shaun Rivers and Kim Ketter, both nurses from Richmond, Virginia.  They were each diagnosed with heart failure during the same week in 2009 when the twins were just 40 years of age.  

Now compare the twins’ photo (and its accompanying text from the American Heart Association) with something that I hope you will never, ever see upon hearing that frightening diagnosis:
Continue reading

Your heart health: “Make time now, so you can have time later”

1 Feb

by Carolyn Thomas  ♥  @HeartSisters

February is Heart Month.  It’s the perfect time to commit to doing something good for your heart this year. A recent Heart and Stroke Foundation survey reveals that we are not making time for healthy choices, which is contributing to the grim reality that cardiovascular disease is the #1 killer of women, and the cause of one in three deaths here in Canada.

The Heart and Stroke Foundation is urging us to make time now, so we can have time later.

Continue reading

Why aren’t female heart attack survivors showing up for cardiac rehab?

30 Dec

by Carolyn Thomas  @HeartSisters

After a cardiac event, a 2-6 month program called cardiac rehabilitation can help survivors gradually improve their physical fitness, learn about nutrition, meet other heart patients, and get support to quit smoking,  lose weight or make other heart-healthy lifestyle changes to improve heart health. Cardiac rehab can reduce mortality by 25-40%, reduces angina symptoms, increases functional capacity, improves lipid (cholesterol) levels, reduces smoking by 25%, enhances psychological well-being, and improves exercise tolerance for all – including the elderly, frail or people with congestive heart failure.

Cardiac rehabilitation really works!  We know that completing a program of cardiac rehab can be very effective in reinforcing improved habits.  A 2001 University of Calgary research team lead by Dr. Kathryn King found that six months after finishing cardiac rehab, participants demonstrated higher health maintenance expectations and overall behaviour performance scores – and these indicators continued to improve over time.

But when I did a 4-month stint at cardiac rehabilitation after my own heart attack, I was vastly outnumbered by male participants, and was also one of the youngest in the group by at least two decades. Where did all the women go?  Continue reading