As if fear of dying weren’t bad enough . . .

by Carolyn Thomas    @HeartSisters

In the astute words of the late Irish soccer star, George Best:

“People say you have to hit rock bottom, and I can tell you that almost dying is as rock bottom as it gets.”
Here at Heart Sisters World Headquarters, we have important news from the Department of the Bleedin’ Obvious: feeling terrified by the immediate possibility that you’re dying is “quite common among patients suffering a heart attack”, according to U.K. research published in the European Heart Journal.(1)
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In fact, researchers observed that “although heart attack survival rates have improved tremendously over the last few decades, many patients remain quite frightened during the experience” (an understatement, by the way, that could only have been uttered by somebody who’s never actually experienced a frickety-frackin’ heart attack). 
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But it turns out that the intense distress caused by this fear of dying in mid-heart attack is not only a common emotional response, but is also linked to actual biological changes during the weeks following a cardiac event – changes that are ironically associated with a higher risk of suffering yet another heart attack.

Continue reading “As if fear of dying weren’t bad enough . . .”

Is it a heart attack – or a panic attack?

by Carolyn Thomas  ♥  @HeartSisters

As a heart attack survivor who was misdiagnosed and sent home from the E.R., I now have a keen (maybe obsessive?) interest in women whose cardiac events are being dismissed by doctors. Reports in the New England Journal of Medicine, for example, show that women under age 55 are SEVEN TIMES more likely than men to be misdiagnosed in mid-heart attack and sent home.(1)

But sometimes, people who are utterly convinced that they’re suffering from misdiagnosed heart problems may instead have conditions like panic disorder. In fact, Dr. Mohammed Memon, editor-in-chief at Medscape Reference, cites studies showing that about 40% of patients with panic disorder seek treatment because of frightening chest pain. But how to tell the difference?  Continue reading “Is it a heart attack – or a panic attack?”

How expecting recovery can help heart attack survivors

by Carolyn Thomas  @HeartSisters

Because I’m a ridiculously early riser most days, I often find myself in the kitchen listening to those pre-dawn overseas radio broadcasts from the BBC or Deutsche Welle or Radio Australia while making my morning coffee. The latter gripped my bean-grinding attention at about 4:45 one morning recently when host Natasha Mitchell was interviewing clinical psychologist Dr. Richard Bryant.

Their conversation aired on her award-winning program on mental health issues, All In The Mind. Their topic, psychological debriefing to help Australia’s traumatized flood victims, contained many unexpected  gems for those of us who have gone through other forms of traumatic events – like surviving a heart attack.

Continue reading “How expecting recovery can help heart attack survivors”