The heart patient’s chronic lament: “Excuse me. I’m sorry. I don’t mean to be a bother…”

by Carolyn Thomas  @HeartSisters

Two weeks before being hospitalized with a heart attack, I was sent home from the Emergency Department of that same hospital with an acid reflux misdiagnosis, despite presenting with textbook heart attack symptoms like chest pain and pain radiating down my left arm.  

At that first visit, I left for home feeling embarrassed and apologetic because I’d just wasted five hours of their valuable time. I felt so embarrassed, in fact, that I even sent the staff in Emergency a sheepish little thank you note the following day, apologizing once again for making such a fuss over nothing.

Not making a fuss is a valued trait for many of us strong women, but this tendency can cause disastrous cardiac outcomes when it makes us reluctant to seek immediate medical attention when we need it most.  Continue reading “The heart patient’s chronic lament: “Excuse me. I’m sorry. I don’t mean to be a bother…””

Do low iron stores protect women from heart attacks?

by Carolyn Thomas    @HeartSisters

Women are somewhat protected from developing heart disease – until we hit menopause, that is.

Many cardiologists believe that the hormone estrogen is women’s secret cardioprotective weapon, until our production of estrogen tapers off and our heart attack rates rise dramatically at menopause to surpass men’s rates. That’s an increasingly  controversial theory, however.

Researchers from Finland, for example, now question this estrogen theory in light of a remarkable study that appears to link iron depletion with protection of heart health. This hypothesis has actually been kicked around by scientists since 1981, when they first observed that the lower rate of heart attacks in menstruating women was associated with relatively low levels of stored iron.   click to continue reading

The ‘bikini approach’ to women’s health research

by Carolyn Thomas

We know that, until very recently, cardiac research for the past three decades has been done either exclusively on men, or with women represented in statistically insignificant numbers. Medical researchers have largely taken a ‘bikini approach’ to women’s health care – in which women’s health research focuses on breasts and the reproductive system.

In a recent WomenHeart interview, Mayo Clinic cardiologist Dr. Sharonne Hayes, founder of the Mayo Women’s Heart Clinic in Rochester, MN, explains:

“In the 1960s, erroneous assertions that heart disease was a man’s disease were widely spread to the medical community and to the public.  This led to research almost exclusively focused on cardiovascular disease in men.  Many clinical trials in the 70s and 80s excluded women or simply didn’t make an effort to enroll women in sufficient numbers to draw sex-based conclusions.” Continue reading “The ‘bikini approach’ to women’s health research”