Heart attack explained in 10 easy minutes

by Carolyn Thomas 

I’m selfishly reluctant to tell you about Khan Academy’s amazing little film that brilliantly explains in about 10 minutes what a heart attack is all about. This reluctance is because once you visit Sal Khan‘s website, you’ll abandon Heart Sisters as well as all other sites you love, and may never come back. His Khan Academy is the thinking person’s version of those addictive cute kitty time-wasters on YouTube.   Continue reading “Heart attack explained in 10 easy minutes”

Ranking the prestige of diseases: guess what’s #1?

by Carolyn Thomas

In a compelling article called Are Some Diseases More Prestigious Than Others? the always-interesting medical historian Dr. Jan Henderson ran an overview ranking the prestige of a number of medical diseases. And WOOOO HOOOO, my heart sisters!  We won! Those of us who have survived a myocardial infarction (heart attack) are right up there at the top. Studies from Norway report that the more highly ranked medical specialties and diseases all involve vital organs, and, let’s face it – what organ is more vital than our hearts?

So why don’t I feel even a tiny bit better about “beating out” 37 other important diagnoses? On this, my 300th posting here on Heart Sisters, let’s check out what Dr. Jan had to say about this Norwegian research: Continue reading “Ranking the prestige of diseases: guess what’s #1?”

Do you know the difference between V.T. and T.V?

by Carolyn Thomas    @HeartSisters

Like any exclusive club, heart disease has its own jargon, understandable only by other members of the club, particularly by cardiac care providers.  For example, I remember lying in my CCU bed (that’s the Coronary Intensive Care Unit), trying to memorize the letters LAD (that’s the Left Anterior Descending, the large coronary artery whose blockage had caused my MI (myocardial infarction – in my case, the so-called ‘widowmaker’ heart attack).

To help others needing simultaneous translation of this new lingo in your own medical records, here’s a helpful list of some of the most common acronyms/terms/abbreviations you’ll likely find around the cardiac ward. 

NOTE from CAROLYN:  This entire patient-friendly, jargon-free glossary (all 8,000 words!) is also part of my book A Woman’s Guide to Living with Heart Disease (Johns Hopkins University Press, November 2017).   You can ask for it at your local library or favourite bookshop, or order it online (paperback, hardcover or e-book) at Amazon, or order it directly from my publisher, Johns Hopkins University Press (use the code HTWN to save 20% off the list price). Continue reading “Do you know the difference between V.T. and T.V?”

We survive it – but do we ever recover from a heart attack?

by Carolyn Thomas

Out of the chaos surrounding my heart attack emerged one overriding obsession: to just be normal again. I was desperate to feel like my old self, all the while feeling that nothing around me felt remotely normal any longer. I was tired of being “sick”. I wanted my old life back.

And I didn’t want to be a heart patient anymore. One day, in fact, about seven weeks after I’d been discharged from hospital, I marched around the apartment gathering up all the get well cards and bouquets of beautiful flowers that filled each room – and trashed them all. (It didn’t work, by the way. I still had heart disease, albeit one with a tidy home!)

What I really wanted was some kind of guarantee that I’d recover perfectly one day very soon.  But according to psychologist Dr. Lisa Holland, even promising patients that we will “recover” may simply be setting us up for a situation that’s essentially unattainable. Instead, she warns, all we can do is rebuild our lives and move forward. Continue reading “We survive it – but do we ever recover from a heart attack?”

Women at greater risk for side effects when taking statin drugs for cholesterol

by Carolyn Thomas  @HeartSisters

Statins are the largest selling class of prescription drugs on earth, and account for over 40% of all heart  medications. Lipitor, for example, at over $26 billion in global sales, was the world’s biggest selling drug, manufactured by the world’s biggest drug company, Pfizer.

Because of their effectiveness in managing cholesterol levels, statins are often prescribed to lower total cholesterol in the belief that lower numbers will mean fewer heart attacks. Most people who are prescribed statins are healthy people who don’t have heart disease but who simply have high cholesterol. They will take these drugs for the rest of their lives, making statins a dream drug for the pharmaceutical companies that make them. Continue reading “Women at greater risk for side effects when taking statin drugs for cholesterol”