I’d never heard of the heart condition called Spontaneous Coronary Artery Dissection (SCAD) until I attended the WomenHeart Science & Leadership patient advocacy training at Mayo Clinic in 2008. SCAD, I learned back then, was a rare and often fatal condition, seen mostly in young, healthy women who have few if any cardiac risk factors. But in a recent interview, cardiologists who specialize in this frequently misunderstood diagnosis added some surprising updates to what is now known about SCAD. . . Continue reading “How I used to describe SCAD. And what I’ve learned since.”
When my heart sister Katherine Leon was featured in The New York Times earlier this year, I was thrilled. Katherine, like me, is a graduate of the WomenHeart Science & Leadership patient advocacy training at Mayo Clinic. She told the Times of undergoing emergency coronary bypass surgery at age 38, several days after her textbook cardiac symptoms had first been dismissed by doctors who told her, “There’s nothing wrong with you.” .
Continue reading ““There is no gender bias in medicine. Because I said so…””
I was happy to see Katherine Leon featured in The New York Times recently. Katherine, like me, is a graduate of the WomenHeart Science & Leadership patient advocacy training at Mayo Clinic. She told the Times of undergoing emergency coronary bypass surgery at age 38, several days after her severe cardiac symptoms had been dismissed by doctors who told her, “There’s nothing wrong with you.”
She isn’t alone. Many, many studies have shown that female heart patients are significantly more likely to be under-diagnosed – and worse, often under-treated even when appropriately diagnosed – compared to our male counterparts. This is especially true for women with her condition (Spontaneous Coronary Artery Dissection, or SCAD) that was once considered to be a rare disease.
Dr. Sharonne Hayes is also featured in the NYT piece; she’s a respected Mayo Clinic cardiologist, longtime SCAD researcher and founder of the Mayo Women’s Heart Clinic. (You can read their story here).
But almost as soon as the Times piece was published online, I was gobsmacked to see some of the reader comments coming in – especially comments from people like these: . Continue reading “Is SCAD rare? Or just rarely diagnosed correctly?”
As a person who lives with and writes about coronary microvascular disease (MVD), I feel lucky that my family doctor, my cardiologist and my pain specialist are all believers. It’s like the trifecta of diagnostic wins for a heart patient! I say that because one of my blog readers, after asking her physician if her puzzling cardiac symptoms might be due to MVD, was told:
“I don’t believe in coronary microvascular disease.”
I guess it’s time to remind such physicians that we’re not talking about Santa Claus or the Tooth Fairy here. Continue reading “My medical diagnosis means more to me than to you”
One of my blog readers needlessly suffered debilitating cardiac symptoms for a number of years before she was finally correctly diagnosed (thanks to a second opinion) with coronary microvascular disease (MVD). During those years, she’d read everything she could get her hands on in a desperate effort to solve this mystery. But when she asked her own physician if MVD might be the culprit, he dismissed this diagnostic possibility, adding that he “didn’t believe” in coronary microvascular disease.
Didn’t believe in it?!
Please note, darling readers, that we’re not talking about the Tooth Fairy here.
We’re talking about a woman living with a cardiac condition that’s been well-studied (as in, peer-reviewed studies done by respected heart researchers and published in actual real-life medical journals).
A guest post by Laura Haywood-Cory – to help celebrate Rare Disease Awareness Day, 2/29/12
“Almost three years ago, I had a heart attack at the age of 40, with no family history or elevated risk factors. I’m not diabetic, I don’t smoke, my arteries aren’t clogged, and at the time, I was training for a triathlon.
“I was in shock to wake up one morning with textbook heart attack symptoms — pain in the center of my chest that radiated down my left arm and up into my neck and jaw, I had cold sweats, I felt nauseated.
“My husband drove us to the hospital, where they treated me as if I were having a heart attack–they gave me a nitro patch, an aspirin, drew blood, did a chest X-ray and an EKG–all the while telling me that it wasn’t my heart, because I was too young and too female. Continue reading “A zebra among horses”