Tag Archives: Prinzmetal’s Variant Angina

Premenopausal women and cardiac symptoms

23 Jul
by Carolyn Thomas      @HeartSisters

Most of you throughout your adolescent and adult lives have no doubt observed that hormone fluctuations during a menstrual cycle can affect certain body parts on certain days of that cycle. These fluctuations cause symptoms ranging from bloating to cramps, vivid dreams, fatigue, acne breakouts, food cravings, or irritability. (That word ‘irritability’ is doctor-speak to describe the act of threatening spouses with homicide if they leave that freakin’ toilet seat up one more time…)

For decades, scientists have also observed that women’s risk of heart attack increases after menopause. One theory for this age-related delay (compared to male heart patients, who generally tend to have their heart attacks a decade or so before we do) was the drop in female hormones at menopause, particularly estrogen. That timing seemed to intuitively make sense. Estrogen levels go down, heart attack rates go up. It’s why physicians believed for a long time that hormone replacement therapy in postmenopausal women could actually prevent heart attacks. (PLEASE NOTE: it doesn’t.*) Continue reading

“I rang the bell again. No one came.”

22 Feb

by Carolyn Thomas    @HeartSisters

There are a number of big issues that leaped out at me about the hospital story you’re about to read.  Let’s see how many of them you observe, too – and how many could have been prevented.  This story is told by Ann, an Australian heart patient whose cardiac journey began in 2007 when she was 51 years old. But over the years since then, she has continued to suffer debilitating cardiac symptoms almost every day.

Her symptoms include not just chest pain, but pain throughout her upper back, jaw, shoulder, neck or arm, occasionally with severe shortness of breath. Despite taking a fistful of daily heart meds and wearing a nitro patch to help manage pain, Ann is rarely able to sleep through an entire night without being awoken by these symptoms. And here’s why . . .
Continue reading

A year in review: top 10 Heart Sisters posts for 2012

30 Dec

by Carolyn Thomas     @HeartSisters

It’s that time again, when navel-gazing pundits everywhere compile their Best Of or Top 10 lists of movies, political stories, books or bloopers for the year that’s just about to slip away. Same here at Heart Sisters!  So let’s take a nostalgic look backwards today at what I like to describe as this “cardiac rehab for my brain” – and why over 690,000 people like you have visited this site since I launched it in 2009.

First, I wish a very Happy New Year to my readers, especially to:

  • those of you who choose to share what you like here with your colleagues, families or your health care professionals
  • my loyal blog subscribers and Twitter followers
  • those who have generously shared your heartfelt, inspiring and sometimes very entertaining personal comments here – I love them!
  • all women living with heart disease: you are not alone!

Now here’s our Top 10 list of the most widely-read Heart Sisters posts of 2012:    Continue reading

Misdiagnosed: women’s coronary microvascular and spasm pain

15 Aug

by Carolyn Thomas  ♥  @HeartSisters

Findings from the federally funded Women’s Ischemia Syndrome Evaluation (WISE) study — a landmark investigation into ischemic heart disease (meaning reduced blood supply to the heart muscle) – are helping us to understand that, as the Harvard Women’s Health Watch puts it: heart disease – like cancer – is not one, but several disorders.

While I was at Mayo Clinic shortly after my heart attack, I also learned that at least two of these disorders are far more commonly seen in women than in men’s “Hollywood heart attacks”. These two heart conditions are coronary microvascular disease (MVD) and coronary artery spasm (CAS). Continue reading

Coronary Microvascular Disease: a “trash basket diagnosis”?

20 Mar

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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 here 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