Skin in the game: taking women’s cardiac misdiagnosis seriously

by Carolyn Thomas     @HeartSisters 

Our physicians are highly trained experts in providing medical care, but it’s their patients who have “skin in the game”This odd phrase is believed to have originated in financial sectors to describe senior investment advisors who demonstrate their confidence in a company by putting their own money (their own “skin”) into the company in order to build investor confidence.  If stock prices fall, they stand to lose – just like their clients will. Advisors who choose not to do this may be every bit as smart, but they have no skin in the game.  Continue reading “Skin in the game: taking women’s cardiac misdiagnosis seriously”

Finally. An official scientific statement on heart attacks in women.

“Sucks to be female. Better luck next life!”

You’re unlikely to spot this succinct summary within the pages of the new official scientific statement on women’s heart attacks from the American Heart Association, but that’s basically the message.(1)  That pithy summary, by the way, was originally quoted here from Laura Haywood-Cory, who at age 40 survived a heart attack caused by Spontaneous Coronary Artery Dissection.  (See also: Cardiac Gender Bias: We Need Less TALK and More WALK.
The AHA statement, published in the journal Circulation to a flutter of media interest, basically confirms what I’ve been writing and speaking about for the past eight years: if you’re a woman having a heart attack, you’re more likely to be underdiagnosed – and then undertreated even when appropriately diagnosed – compared to our male counterparts.
So my question this week (as a woman who was sent home from the ER in mid-heart attack with a misdiagnosis of acid reflux) is this:  if Laura and I and countless other women who’ve survived a heart attack have long ago reported on this “news”, why has it taken 92 years for the American Heart Association to produce its first ever scientific statement on myocardial infarction in female patients?  But don’t get me wrong – I’m always relieved to see any attempt from any major heart organization that helps to spread the word, so I’m running the full AHA news release for you here:  

Continue reading “Finally. An official scientific statement on heart attacks in women.”

6 reasons women delay seeking medical help – even in mid-heart attack

by Carolyn Thomas @HeartSisters

I finally realized that I was in big trouble during a five-hour flight from Ottawa to Vancouver. But I’d been told emphatically by an Emergency Department physician two weeks earlier that my symptoms were just from acid reflux – and had nothing to do with my heart.

So for two weeks, I’d endured increasingly debilitating episodes of chest pain, sweating, nausea and pain radiating down my left arm. But hey! – at least I knew it wasn’t my heart. A man with the letters M.D. after his name had told me so. Continue reading “6 reasons women delay seeking medical help – even in mid-heart attack”

Homicide in the E.R. – the tragic case of Beatrice Vance

by Carolyn Thomas  @HeartSisters

This story has been told for years, and it deserves to be told again. It’s the tale of 49-year old Beatrice Vance, who in July of 2006, arrived in the Vista Medical Center Emergency Room in Lake County, Illinois complaining of chest pain, nausea and shortness of breath.

Despite these textbook heart attack symptoms, Beatrice was not seen immediately by E.R. physicians, but was instead told to sit down in the waiting room.  So she waited.  And she waited.  And by the time the E.R. nurse finally called her name two hours later, Beatrice Vance was slumped in her chair, already dead.

The coroner’s report determined that this heart attack was caused by a blocked coronary artery, and contributing factors were delayed and inadequate treatment.

Much later, in a truly startling decision, a coroner’s jury investigating the Beatrice Vance case didn’t just cite the hospital, but it declared this death a homicide in its ruling against the E.R. physicians and nurses working that night.  Continue reading “Homicide in the E.R. – the tragic case of Beatrice Vance”

My heart attack story in Ladies Home Journal

by Carolyn Thomas  @HeartSisters

I have to admit this: it was pretty exciting to be interviewed on the subject of surviving a heart attack by magazine writer Amelia Harnish for Ladies Home Journal’s special Heart Month online edition.  You can read her article called Heartburn or Heart Attack?  – see what you think! But first, an embarrassed warning: remember when your parents wagged their fingers at you and said: “Do like I say, not like I do!”  Keep that counsel in mind when you read my heart attack story. Example: do not, under any circumstances, get into your car and drive yourself anywhere while you are experiencing heart attack symptoms.   Continue reading “My heart attack story in Ladies Home Journal”