When babies with congenital heart defects grow up

by Carolyn Thomas    @HeartSisters

hands-105455_1280In 2005, it was estimated that for the first time in history, there are now more adults than children living with childhood heart defects. That sounds like good news to me, because it means that due to major advances in medicine over the past few decades, more than 90% of babies born with congenital heart disease are now surviving into adulthood. What it also means, however, is that as these babies grow up, they need continued and careful monitoring as heart patients.

One such baby was Aletha, one of my blog readers in South Dakota, now 36 years of age. Her parents, she says, realized soon after she was born that their newborn daughter had a problem. Pediatric cardiologists diagnosed baby Aletha with a heart condition called Bicuspid Aortic Valve Disease (BAVD).  Continue reading “When babies with congenital heart defects grow up”

How a woman’s heart is different from a man’s

by Carolyn Thomas     @HeartSisters

In many ways, the fact that my cardiac treadmill stress test results appeared “normal” was not a surprise, despite my textbook heart attack symptoms of crushing chest pain, nausea, sweating and pain radiating down my left arm. What we now know is that single-vessel heart disease, which is more common in women than in men, may be less likely to be picked up at all on a treadmill test.

Even though my left anterior descending coronary artery was 95% blocked, this didn’t show up. Similarly, for other women non-obstructive heart disease (again, more common in women) is harder to identify given our existing diagnostics. Women are more likely to suffer from coronary microvascular disease affecting the smallest blood vessels of the heart. And spasm conditions like Prinzmetal’s variant angina are difficult to catch at the best of times, but women can be just as dead after a heart attack caused by undiagnosed Prinzmetal’s as they would be due to fully-occluded coronary arteries.   Continue reading “How a woman’s heart is different from a man’s”