Words matter when we describe our heart attack symptoms

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 “Words matter when we describe our heart attack symptoms”

When routine tasks trigger heart symptoms

by Carolyn Thomas  @HeartSisters

household-choresHeart disease is a strange animal indeed. Our very first symptoms can range from mild shortness of breath on exertion to sudden death – and almost every possible symptom in between.  My own were those of the textbook Hollywood Heart Attack (crushing central chest pain, nausea, sweating, and pain down my left arm) – yet I was sent home by Emergency Department staff with a misdiagnosis of indigestion – feeling very, very embarrassed for having made such a fuss over nothing.  It took two weeks to be finally correctly diagnosed with myocardial infarction (heart attack) caused by a 95% blockage of my Left Anterior Descending Coronary artery. And it took several more months – and another trip back to hospital – to figure out what was causing ongoing distressing symptoms that were ultimately diagnosed as Inoperable Coronary Microvascular Disease (MVD) or dysfunction of the smaller coronary arteries.

But MVD is very tricky to diagnose because most standard coronary artery disease diagnostic tests – the kind that work so well at  identifying big fat blockages in our larger arteries – may not be capable of catching it.  Continue reading “When routine tasks trigger heart symptoms”

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

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

12 cardiac symptoms women must never ignore

  by Carolyn Thomas    @HeartSisters

Did you know that women generally fare far worse than men after experiencing a cardiac event? One possible reason is that it can be confusing to make sense of warning symptoms when they do hit. Women are also less likely than our male counterparts to seek immediate help at the first sign of cardiac symptoms. Instead, we end up:

  • toughing them out
  • waiting to see if they go away
  • blaming them on stress, muscle soreness, indigestion or other less serious non-cardiac causes

If the following 12 potential heart attack symptoms occur – alone or in combination, and especially if they feel unusual for you, you must act immediately:   Continue reading “12 cardiac symptoms women must never ignore”