How Minimally Disruptive Medicine is happily disrupting health care

by Carolyn Thomas    @HeartSisters

I’ve been on an adventure recently to a magical, faraway place. It was my second visit to the world-famous Mayo Clinic in beautiful downtown Rochester, Minnesota. My first trip there was exactly seven years ago as a freshly-diagnosed heart attack survivor. I had applied (and was accepted) to attend the annual WomenHeart Science and Leadership Symposium for Women With Heart Disease at Mayo Clinic – the first Canadian ever invited to attend. This is a training program that arms its graduates with the knowledge, skills and (most of all) Mayo’s street cred to help us become community educators when we go back to our hometowns.

Thus, a circle that began with me sitting in a 2008 training audience was completed as I became one of the presenters onstage in front of an audience of cardiologists at a Mayo medical conference on women’s heart disease. (Thank you Drs. Hayes, Mulvagh and Gulati for your persistent invitations!)  But long before I took the stage last weekend, I’d been invited to come to Rochester a day earlier to meet with some pretty amazing Mayo staff. Continue reading “How Minimally Disruptive Medicine is happily disrupting health care”

Coronary Microvascular Disease: a “trash basket diagnosis”?

by Carolyn Thomas  @HeartSisters

Dr. Juan Carlos Kaski, Head of the Cardiovascular Sciences Research Centre, St. George’s University of London in the U.K., explains an unusual cardiac diagnosis that I happen to share: Inoperable Coronary Microvascular Disease (MVD).

When I was at Mayo Clinic five months after my heart attack, cardiologists there referred to MVD as a “trash basket diagnosis” – not because the condition doesn’t exist, but because this disorder of the tiniest blood vessels in the heart is so often missed entirely. A correct diagnosis usually happens only after all other possible diagnoses are thrown out. It’s far more common in women and in people who have diabetes. It’s treatable, but can be very difficult to detect. Continue reading “Coronary Microvascular Disease: a “trash basket diagnosis”?”

“But what about the men?!”

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by Carolyn Thomas  @HeartSisters

As you know, I rarely publish guest posts here on Heart Sisters (given that I have a small avalanche of 232 half-done draft articles piling up alarmingly) but I wanted to share this post with you. It’s from the irreverent Laura Haywood-Cory of North Carolina, one of my sister heart attack survivors and yet another graduate of Mayo Clinic’s WomenHeart Science & Leadership Symposium for Women With Heart Disease in Rochester, Minnesota (and more recently, of the Mayo Clinic Social Media Summit there, too!)

Her own dramatic heart story is that of a deadly and rare condition usually seen in young, healthy women with few if any known cardiac risk factors: Spontaneous Coronary Artery Dissection or SCAD. I’m happy to say she has been making a heroic effort to beat this sucker into the ground – just one year after surviving her heart attack, Laura completed the Chapel Hill Ramblin’ Rose Triathlon. She now writes about SCAD, women’s heart health, and life in general on her blog  – from which I have lifted this little gem, with her permission. Laura writes:    Continue reading ““But what about the men?!””

“Jenny, know your numbers!” A free Mayo Clinic app

Catch the cameo appearances here by Mayo Women’s Heart Clinic cardiologist Dr. Sharonne Hayes (at work and joining Jenny on the treadmill!) on this spoof of a classic 1982 song reminding us to know and keep track of our heart health numbers. As part of the campaign, viewers can use a free application on Mayo’s Facebook page that will help them calculate their risk of a heart attack and learn how to prevent one.

Can denial ever be a good thing for heart patients?

by Carolyn Thomas  @HeartSisters

When my little green car started making a funny PING! noise recently, I tried to talk myself out of what I was hearing.  “I don’t think it’s quite as bad as it sounded yesterday . . .”  And when my heart attack symptoms became more and more debilitating, I tried to talk myself out of them, too.

And besides, hadn’t the E.R. doctor emphatically diagnosed those symptoms (central chest pain, nausea, sweating and pain down my left arm) as merely acid reflux just two weeks earlier? In both cases, I guess I was being unrealistically hopeful. But as writer Margaret Weis once warned:

“Hope is the denial of reality.”

Denial has a bad name. To be “in denial” – whether it’s about a niggling noise coming from under the hood or about something as serious as a health crisis – is to be called foolhardy or just plain stubborn. But in some cases, according to Mayo Clinic experts, a little denial may actually be a good thing. Being in denial for a short period can even be a healthy coping mechanism, giving us time to adjust to a painful or stressful issue.   Continue reading “Can denial ever be a good thing for heart patients?”

Apply now for the WomenHeart Symposium at Mayo Clinic

by Carolyn Thomas  @HeartSisters

Are you, or do you know, a woman living with heart disease who is interested in making a real difference to women’s heart health as a WomenHeart community educator?

Are you also at least six months past your last hospitalization for cardiac treatment, have your doctor’s written permission to travel, are very comfortable speaking in public, and want to start a WomenHeart Support Network in your home community?

If so, consider applying to attend a life-altering training event called the WomenHeart Science & Leadership Symposium at the world-famous Mayo Clinic, October 7-10 in Rochester, Minnesota.  Continue reading “Apply now for the WomenHeart Symposium at Mayo Clinic”