Tag Archives: misdiagnosis of heart disease

“Dear Carolyn: I was never one to complain. . . “

10 Jun

by Carolyn Thomas    @HeartSisters    June 10, 2018

Sometimes, the story of how another woman first discovered she had heart disease can seem eerily familiar to our own. It’s that familiarity that first attracted me to this Dear Carolyn episode (our fourth in the occasional series that features my Heart Sisters readers sharing the unique experience of what it can feel like to become a heart patient).

This particular blog reader, who prefers to remain anonymous, explains her reluctance to seek medical help while repeatedly blaming her distressing symptoms on non-cardiac causes. I completely identified with that reluctance because I went through that same surreal refusal to seek help for my own worsening cardiac symptoms after being misdiagnosed in the E.R. with acid reflux. If you, too, have ever engaged in what researchers call “treatment-seeking delay behaviour” during a heart attack, her story might feel familiar to you, too. Continue reading

Hysterical female? Just anxious? Or heart attack?

27 Mar

woman_depression

A guest post written by Patti Digh, social activist, heart attack survivor, and the author of eight books including her best seller Life is a Verb: 37 Days To Wake Up, Be Mindful, And Live Intentionally.  This essay originally ran on her blog 37 Days in January 2016.

“He’s working with a med student shadowing him today. Do you mind being seen by her first?”

In the spirit of education, I said, “No, of course not.”

She had long strawberry blond hair and big glasses. We talked. “What brought you here today?” she asked. Continue reading

Misdiagnosis: is it what doctors think, or HOW they think?

25 May

As a heart attack survivor who was sent home from the E.R. with a misdiagnosis of indigestion despite presenting with textbook symptoms (central chest pain, nausea, sweating and pain radiating down my left arm), I’m pretty interested in the subject of why women are far more likely to be misdiagnosed in mid-heart attack compared to our male counterparts.

Dr. Pat Croskerry is pretty interested in the subject of misdiagnosis, too. He’s an Emergency Medicine physician, a patient safety expert and director of the critical thinking program at Dalhousie University Medical School in Halifax. In fact, he implemented at Dal the first undergraduate course in Canada about medical error in clinical decision-making, specifically around why and how physicians make diagnostic errors. Every year, he gives a deceptively simple critical thinking quiz to his incoming first-year med students.

So here’s your chance to practice thinking like a doctor. Try answering these yourself, but as Dr. Croskerry advises, don’t think too hard. If you were an Emergency Department physician, paramedic or first responder, he warns, you’d have only seconds to size things up and make a decision. Don’t read ahead to peek at the answers! Now, here are your questions:   Continue reading

How can we get female heart patients past ER gatekeepers?

15 Nov

by Carolyn Thomas   @HeartSisters

Sometimes, people in my women’s heart health presentation audiences ask me if I’ve ever gone back to confront the physician who had misdiagnosed me with acid reflux and sent me home from the E.R. – despite my textbook heart attack symptoms of chest pain, nausea, sweating and pain radiating down my left arm.  No, my heart sisters, I never did. But what did happen was, I think, even more satisfyingly juicy.   

Months after surviving that heart attack, and freshly fortified with Mayo Clinic cred after graduating from their annual WomenHeart Science & Leadership training for women with heart disease, I received an invitation to share what I’d just learned at Mayo to local docs and nurses working in Emergency Medicine.  I was offered one hour on the agenda of their annual Staff Education Day to talk about my own fateful misdiagnosis – and how, according to the Mayo Women’s Heart Clinic, that scenario might be avoided for future female heart patients like me: women who present with textbook cardiac symptoms but “normal” diagnostic tests.  Continue reading

‘Gaslighting’ – or, why women are just too darned emotional during their heart attacks

25 Nov

by Carolyn Thomas  ♥  @HeartSisters

I came across the term gaslighting the other day, and I immediately grasped its practical application to everyday life. (Very similar reaction, in fact, to first hearing the word mansplaining!) But I digress. The concept of gaslighting may ring bells for any woman who has been misdiagnosed in mid-heart attack, patted on the head and sent home from the E.R. in abject embarrassment. Continue reading