The most dangerous kind of coronary artery blockage

by Carolyn Thomas    @HeartSisters

We used to hear coronary heart disease described as “hardening of the arteries”, or atherosclerosis. I pictured this as some kind of clogged drain under an old sink, plugged up with years of disgustingly hard gunk. But it turns out that only about three out of every 10 heart attacks are actually caused by this kind of hardened coronary artery blockage.

The rest of us can blame soft, vulnerable and unstable plaque within the walls of those arteries. This may also help to explain (as I’ve written about here and here) why you can have a “normal” cardiac test one month, and be back in hospital the following month with a heart attack. Here’s how that can sometimes happen, according to experts at the Texas Heart Institute: Continue reading “The most dangerous kind of coronary artery blockage”

How having a wife shortens time to heart attack care

by Carolyn Thomas     @HeartSisters

Help-by-LiminalMikeHere’s a news flash from the Department of the Bleedin’ Obvious . . .  Medical researchers tell us that married men suffering heart attack chest pain get to the hospital far quicker than single men do.  In my admittedly non-scientific opinion, this reality is entirely due to the fact that these married men have wives.

As Dr. Ralph Brindis, past president of the American College of Cardiology, once told a Wall Street Journal interviewer: 

“Thank God we have spouses. I can’t tell you how often, if it was left up to the patient, they never would have sought care.” 

According to one study, for example, a Canadian research team out of Toronto’s Institute for Clinical Evaluative Sciences found that the odds of men showing up at the hospital more than six hours after the onset of cardiac chest pain were a relative 65% lower in men who had spouses compared to their single male counterparts. (1)

In a spectacularly understated explanation for these findings, researchers reported in the Canadian Medical Association Journal:

“We surmise that, in general, women may be more likely than men to take the role of caregiver and to advise their spouses to seek early medical assessment.”

This early medical assessment during a heart attack is crucially important, because we know that half of the deaths from a heart attack occur in the first 3-4 hours after cardiac symptoms begin. Now here’s the interesting – and utterly maddening – part of this surmising from the Canadian study: a similar association was not seen in married women.  In other words, being married did not mean that women were more likely than their single peers to seek faster help in mid-heart attack. Continue reading “How having a wife shortens time to heart attack care”

A kindergarten kid’s guide to heart disease

Ah, summertime.  And the livin’ is easy, according to Porgy and Bess – and to all school teachers.  I know you’re out there, you teachers, lolling in dappled-shade hammocks and enjoying those margaritas for the next month or so.  But here’s an early reminder for you teachers to consider when you go back to the classroom:  Heart Smart Kids.   It’s a unique and important program to help both teachers and parents educate children as young as five about the importance of good heart health.

It’s never too early for kidlets to start learning about our #1 health threat – especially since we know that up to 80% of heart disease is preventable, and that heart disease is 20-30 years in the making.  The Heart and Stroke Foundation of BC and Yukon has developed this fun way to inspire heart-healthy habits in our children and families. All program information is current and has been approved by Heart and Stroke Foundation experts for children in grades K-6.

And for free kid-friendly, heart-smart recipes and fun activity tips every month, you can subscribe to Parent He@lthline, a free e-newsletter for your entire family. Continue reading “A kindergarten kid’s guide to heart disease”