Are you a heart attack waiting to happen?

by Carolyn Thomas    @HeartSisters

woman screaming-5 I was asked last year by a large U.S. publisher to review a new book written by a woman who had recently become a heart patient. I enjoyed reading the first chapter or two until I came to the New York author’s dramatic story of the actual cardiac event itself. The part that left me gobsmacked was not the event, but her abject shock and disbelief that she (of all people!) could be experiencing a heart attack at all.  The pervasive “Why me? Why me?” focus in this chapter clearly ignored a reality that the author had somehow chosen to gloss over: she’d been a heavy smoker for several decades.

Don’t get me wrong. Any cardiac event is indeed a traumatic occurrence no matter who and when it strikes. Sometimes, we truly have no hint about the cause of said event. And my immediate gut reaction was not meant to mock this author, or minimize her experience (which was awful). 

But I felt honestly surprised that she was surprised. Continue reading “Are you a heart attack waiting to happen?”

10 things I didn’t know about angioplasty until I read this book

by Carolyn Thomas    ♥  @HeartSisters

heart-700141_1280 Being asked to write a book review is tricky. Authors hope you will be kind, while you hope the book at best might tell you something that every other book for heart patients hasn’t already told you. A review copy of the book Your Personal Guide: Angioplasty sat on my coffee table for weeks, until one day, I finally got tired of looking at this latest addition to my living room decor and decided to give it a go.   And within a very few pages, I learned some fascinating things I didn’t know before.   Continue reading “10 things I didn’t know about angioplasty until I read this book”

The unforgettable diagnosis: “You’re having a heart attack!”

by Carolyn Thomas 

Jennifer Donelan was a 36-year old television news reporter for ABC News 7 in Washington, DC, covering a dramatic story one day about a local 4-month old baby girl who had been found in her crib, unresponsive. After her live shot on the 5 o’clock newscast, Jennifer was waiting near her car when she started to feel a very strange pain in her chest. We pick up her dramatic story there, as told in Jennifer’s own words:

“I remember looking at my car and thinking: ‘I need to go home and lay down.’ Then the pain started to worsen. I took a few steps and my left arm went numb.  Continue reading “The unforgettable diagnosis: “You’re having a heart attack!””

A zebra among horses

A guest post by Laura Haywood-Cory – to help celebrate Rare Disease Awareness Day, 2/29/12

“Almost three years ago, I had a heart attack at the age of 40, with no family history or elevated risk factors. I’m not diabetic, I don’t smoke, my arteries aren’t clogged, and at the time, I was training for a triathlon.

“I was in shock to wake up one morning with textbook heart attack symptoms — pain in the center of my chest that radiated down my left arm and up into my neck and jaw, I had cold sweats, I felt nauseated.

“My husband drove us to the hospital, where they treated me as if I were having a heart attack–they gave me a nitro patch, an aspirin, drew blood, did a chest X-ray and an EKG–all the while telling me that it wasn’t my heart, because I was too young and too female.   Continue reading “A zebra among horses”

Misdiagnosis: the perils of “unwarranted certainty”

by Carolyn Thomas    @HeartSisters

Until being misdiagnosed with indigestion in mid-heart attack, I generally trusted that all people with the letters M.D. after their names knew what they were talking about when diagnosing serious medical problems. That was long before I tracked down a study(1) reported in the New England Journal of Medicine that women under the age of 55 who are experiencing a heart attack are seven times more likely to be misdiagnosed and sent home from the E.R. compared to their male counterparts presenting with identical symptoms.

And that’s why I now find Dr. Jerome Groopman’s landmark book, How Doctors Think, so illuminating.  It should be required reading for all med school students.  Continue reading “Misdiagnosis: the perils of “unwarranted certainty””