How intense grief increases your cardiac risk

by Carolyn Thomas    @HeartSisters

Emelyn_Story_Tomba_(Cimitero_Acattolico_Roma)My Dad died young in 1983, at just 62 years of age. His was the first significantly meaningful death I’d ever been exposed to, and my personal introduction to the concept of grief and bereavement in our family. My father died of metastatic cancer, lying in a general med-surg hospital ward bed, misdiagnosed with pneumonia until five days before his death, cared for (and I use those two words charitably) by a physician who was so profoundly ignorant about end-of-life care that he actually said these words to my distraught mother, with a straight face:

“We are reluctant to give him opioids for pain because they are addictive.”

This pronouncement was made on the morning of the same day my father died. But hey! – at least Dad wasn’t an addict when he took his last breath nine hours later.    Continue reading “How intense grief increases your cardiac risk”

Yes, Virginia, there is such a thing as a broken heart

by Carolyn Thomas  ♥ @HeartSisters

After the first attack of severe chest pain, the 61-year old woman spent the night in the hospital’s Emergency Department hooked up to a heart monitor, felt better after a few hours, and was discharged in the morning.  Even though she had no cardiac risk factors, her blood tests showed that her cardiac enzymes were somewhat elevated, she described a “too-much-adrenaline” feeling, and she had also failed a cardiac treadmill stress test because of heart rate arrythmias.  No positive diagnosis was made at the time, although a condition called myocarditis was suggested.

Then nine uneventful years later, a second attack occurred, this one during a very traumatic period in her life, in hospital for a colon resection operation due to cancer. She describes it like this:   Continue reading “Yes, Virginia, there is such a thing as a broken heart”