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?”

Seven ways to misdiagnose a heart attack

by Carolyn Thomas  @HeartSisters

I’ve had a keen – some might say obsessive – interest in the subject of medical misdiagnosis ever since a man with the letters M.D. after his name sent me home from the Emergency Department in mid-heart attack. I had just been misdiagnosed with acid reflux – despite presenting with textbook cardiac symptoms.

These included crushing central chest pain, nausea, sweating, and pain radiating down my left arm. How can modern medicine still be making such potentially deadly misdiagnoses like this? Continue reading “Seven ways to misdiagnose a heart attack”

How to communicate your heart symptoms to your doctor

by Carolyn Thomas

Here’s a news flash from the Prepared Patient forum of the Center For Advancing Health: your doctor is not a mind reader. And how you describe your symptoms can be just as important as what you describe. Physicians – and experienced heart patients – say you must be as detailed and descriptive as possible. For example:  Continue reading “How to communicate your heart symptoms to your doctor”

Melissa Mia Hall, who couldn’t afford health insurance, dies of heart attack

by Carolyn Thomas    @HeartSisters

Melissa Mia Hall, 1954-2011

Melissa Mia Hall’s book-reviewing dog, Daisy

Texas author, artist and book industry journalist Melissa Mia Hall once wrote: “When I need help writing book reviews, my dog Daisy is always eager to lend a paw.” After trying to lift Daisy recently, Melissa felt an odd pain in her chest. She told her editor at Publishers Weekly that she had pulled a muscle. She later emailed a friend:

“Right now really hurting. Hurt my chest/back last night lifting Daisy wrong.  She’s too heavy and I pulled muscles, I guess. I thought at first I was having a heart attack it was so awful. Tonight I’m really hurting still. Ibuprofen’s not helping much. Using heating pad. It’s been a long painful day and hard to concentrate on much. Why now?  Sigh… xoxo” Continue reading “Melissa Mia Hall, who couldn’t afford health insurance, dies of heart attack”

The myth of the “Hollywood Heart Attack” for women

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Of course you know what a heart attack looks like:
  • The victim stops what they’re doing.
  • Their eyes open wide.
  • They clutch their chest, make some funny noises, and then they collapse to the floor. Right?

Wrong. (Don’t believe everything you see on TV!)  That scenario describes sudden cardiac arrest, not heart attack. The two are not the same thing at all. The heart attack awareness campaign called “Make The Call – Don’t Miss a Beat” tells us how symptoms of the classic  “Hollywood Heart Attack” can differ from the actual reality for most women.   Continue reading “The myth of the “Hollywood Heart Attack” for women”

Why we keep telling – and re-telling – our heart attack stories

by Carolyn Thomas  @HeartSisters

A woman in the grocery store calls out from the neighbouring checkout line: “Hey! You’re the heart lady, right?” She continues, in what seems a much-too-loud voice, that she had been in the audience at one of my annual Cardiac Café presentations at the university. But “heart lady?” Is this really how I want to be known and recognized for the rest of my natural life?   Continue reading “Why we keep telling – and re-telling – our heart attack stories”