Tag Archives: heart attack symptoms in women

“Dear Carolyn: I was never one to complain. . . “

10 Jun

by Carolyn Thomas    @HeartSisters    June 10, 2018

Sometimes, the story of how another woman first discovered she had heart disease can seem eerily familiar to our own. It’s that familiarity that first attracted me to this Dear Carolyn episode (our fourth in the occasional series that features my Heart Sisters readers sharing the unique experience of what it can feel like to become a heart patient).

This particular blog reader, who prefers to remain anonymous, explains her reluctance to seek medical help while repeatedly blaming her distressing symptoms on non-cardiac causes. I completely identified with that reluctance because I went through that same surreal refusal to seek help for my own worsening cardiac symptoms after being misdiagnosed in the E.R. with acid reflux. If you, too, have ever engaged in what researchers call “treatment-seeking delay behaviour” during a heart attack, her story might feel familiar to you, too. Continue reading

Do NOT drive yourself to the E.R. in mid-heart attack!

23 Oct

screen-shot-2016-09-18-at-1-00-46-pm

by Carolyn Thomas    @HeartSisters

I don’t know why this even needs saying, but apparently it does. People talking about heart patients with severe chest pain (or offering advice to heart patients with severe chest pain, or speaking onstage at Stanford University’s annual Medicine X conference showing this slide about heart patients with severe chest pain) must never and I do mean NEVER even hint that patients should drive themselves to hospital while experiencing “severe chest pain” unless you are “too dizzy to drive yourself”. 

REALITY UPDATE: I am posting this slide as a warning to others about giving bad advice, not to offer an opinion on hospitals that engage in patient communication tools. 

Continue reading

Words matter when we describe our heart attack symptoms

16 Nov

by Carolyn Thomas     @HeartSisters

When I interviewed Dr. Catherine Kreatsoulas* about the research paper she presented last month in Vancouver at the Canadian Cardiovascular Congress(1), she mentioned her previous heart study that caught my attention.

I was surprised by her explanation from that earlier research on how some women describe their chest pain during a heart attack (2), as she told me:  .   .
Continue reading

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

1 Nov

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

Disregard that internet chain letter about “Cough CPR”

10 Nov

by Carolyn Thomas @HeartSisters

Since my heart attack, my friends and family like to forward me every heart-related email going around, usually with the subject line: “Have you seen this one yet?!?!” A particularly persistent one that just won’t go away is entitled “How to Survive a Heart Attack when Alone.” Have you seen this one yet? It recommends that people who think they are having a heart attack should start coughing, long, deeply and frequently. The email claims that coughing will improve blood circulation to the heart, keeping you alive until emergency services arrive. 

Does this work?  

In a word: NO!  Here’s why:

Continue reading