What does a girl have to do to get her heart attack noticed?

by Carolyn Thomas

Last month, some famous cardiologists gathered at a New York City heart health media event and wryly suggested it might be helpful if only women in mid-heart attack could clutch their chests, turn pale, and fall to the ground in dramatic defeat, in typical Hollywood Heart Attack fashion.

I wish I’d been there in person.

Kentucky cardiologist Dr. Melissa Walton-Shirley was, though, and wrote about this event called In The Prime Of Her Life.

She described the prestigious health care providers who gathered to participate in the event’s panel discussions as the “rock stars of cardiology”, each one specializing in the treatment of female cardiovascular diseases.   Continue reading “What does a girl have to do to get her heart attack noticed?”

Top 10 posts from Heart Sisters for 2010

2010 has been quite the year here at Heart Sisters! The little blog that began in 2009 after my heart attack simply as “cardiac rehab for my brain” has now published 257 articles, attracting over 100,000 visitors. New articles arrive here about every four days, depending on my health, and I never run out of emerging news about women’s heart disease, cardiac research, heart-smart recipes or heart-related trivia to write about!

The Toronto-based magazine More interviewed me this year for a February 2011 feature about Canadian women who have launched health-related websites, and a number of essays here have also been picked up by other much larger health sites, herehere or here, for example. Hundreds of people now follow Heart Sisters on Twitter, repost my links on their Facebook sites, or subscribe directly via email to receive updates on new postings.   Continue reading “Top 10 posts from Heart Sisters for 2010”

14 reasons to be glad you’re a man when you’re having a heart attack

by Carolyn Thomas  ♥  @HeartSisters

I just finished reading a truly weird rant on another website, written by a man decrying the “sexism” of our society because all of our male doctors are now focused only on women’s heart disease – while apparently ignoring men completely.

It would surely be the fantasy dream of every woman heart attack survivor if this man were actually telling the truth about all that attention women’s heart disease is allegedly attracting.  The frightening reality instead is that since 1984, more women than men have died each year from heart disease. In fact, the gap between men and women’s cardiac survival continues to widen.

In the interests of enlightening the unconscious among us about All Things Cardiac, I am happy to point out an assortment of gender differences if you find yourself having a heart attack:  Continue reading “14 reasons to be glad you’re a man when you’re having a heart attack”

“Women’s Heart Attack Myth”? Revisiting the controversial Canadian study

heart man woman cards

by Carolyn Thomas      @HeartSisters

Media coverage of a study presented at the annual Canadian Cardiovascular Congress last month has left me and other Heart Sisters gobsmacked.  One heart attack survivor told me:

“This ‘research’ has set back women’s awareness of heart attack symptoms by a full decade!”

What could have inspired a reaction like this?  First, there are the media headlines, “The Heart Attack Myth”.   Continue reading ““Women’s Heart Attack Myth”? Revisiting the controversial Canadian study”

How does it really feel to have a heart attack? Women survivors answer that question

by Carolyn Thomas  ♥  @HeartSisters

Having a heart attack felt nothing like I thought it would feel.   For one thing, unlike sudden cardiac arrest, in which the heart stops beating and you stop breathing, during my heart attack (myocardial infarction), my heart continued beating, and I was walking, talking and conscious throughout despite horrific symptoms – so how could I possibly be having a heart attack?

Like most women, I’d never really thought about my heart – except maybe when running up that killer Quadra Street hill with my running group. Heart disease kills six times more women than breast cancer each year (in fact, it kills more women than all forms of cancer combined).  And since 1984, heart disease kills more women than men annually.

Women need to know all the potential symptoms of a heart attack – both typical and atypical and seek medical help if these symptoms do hit.  So I asked some survivors to share their very first symptoms. Their heart attack stories may surprise you:

Read their stories

Women’s cardiac care: is it gender difference – or gender bias?

woman man novelties

by Carolyn Thomas  ♥  @HeartSisters

At the WomenHeart Science & Leadership Symposium last fall, Mayo Clinic cardiologists told us that, when it comes to women, heart disease is much more than an equal opportunity health threat.  Women with heart disease are underdiagnosed (and undertreated even when accurately diagnosed) compared to men presenting with the same condition.  And we also have more deadly outcomes compared to men.

Did you know that more women than men die of heart disease each year in North America? What I found particularly appalling was a 2005 American Heart Association study that found only 8% of family doctors were aware of this fact, and (even worse!) only 17% of cardiologists were aware.

Here are some other examples that may help to explain gender bias in diagnosis and treatment of women’s heart disease: Continue reading “Women’s cardiac care: is it gender difference – or gender bias?”