The chest pain / panic connection

by Carolyn Thomas    @HeartSisters     April 28, 2019

For most of us, feelings of anxiety or panic are generally occasional, mild and brief – normal responses to being worried or scared. I never thought of myself as a person who was prone to experience anxiety or panic – until I survived a heart attack. I can now tell you quite confidently that there are few things in life that are more anxiety-producing than being in the middle of a frickety-frackin’ heart attack. . . Continue reading “The chest pain / panic connection”

What I wish I’d known before my hospital discharge

by Carolyn Thomas     @HeartSisters      April 8, 2018

I was feeling dead chuffed (as my UK friends would say) to be published again in the British Medical Journal (BMJ) recently.(1)  As part of their What Your Patient Is Thinking series, my guest essay includes what I now wish I’d known before being sent home from the Cardiac Care Unit following my heart attack diagnosis and treatment.  

Continue reading “What I wish I’d known before my hospital discharge”

The shock – and ironic relief – of hearing a serious diagnosis

by Carolyn Thomas    @HeartSisters

I vaguely recall my gurney being wheeled very quickly down a wide hospital corridor after I heard the words “heart attack” from the cardiologist who had been called to the E.R.  I stared up at the ceiling lights flicking by overhead, feeling freakishly calm, considering. Here’s what I recall thinking in my strangely calm state: when I’d first come into this same E.R. two weeks earlier, terrified that my symptoms of chest pain, nausea, sweating and pain down my left arm might be due to a heart attack, I had been right!

The symptoms had never been because I was “in the right demographic for acid reflux” (despite what the Emergency physician who’d sent me home that first day had confidently pronounced). But now, after two weeks of popping Gaviscon like candy for these increasingly horrific symptoms, I just felt relieved that all of the people around me now would know how to take care of me. The shock of hearing my new (correct) diagnosis of heart attack was subsumed in that moment by a wave of profound relief. Continue reading “The shock – and ironic relief – of hearing a serious diagnosis”

When the woman who won’t call 911 is your mother

by Carolyn Thomas    @HeartSisters

Cardiologists know that, when it comes to seeking emergency medical help while experiencing alarming cardiac symptoms, women can be surprisingly reluctant to call 911. As I’ve written about here, here and here, this is a puzzling phenomenon we call treatment-seeking delay behaviour. It turns out that some cardiologists have to worry not only about patients like this, but about their own mothers. Continue reading “When the woman who won’t call 911 is your mother”

How these doctors have saved thousands of women

by Carolyn Thomas

A guest post by Dr. Annabelle Santos Volgman, McMullan-Eybel Chair for Excellence in Clinical Cardiology, Professor of Medicine, Rush College of Medicine, and Medical Director, Rush Heart Center for Women, Rush University Medical Center, Chicago, IL; and Marissa Bergman, Associate Editor, Today’s Chicago Woman

“2013 was the first year since 1984 that fewer women died of heart disease than men(1)—despite being viewed as solely a man’s health issue. This decline was the result of the tireless work of a small group of women who have dedicated their lives to eradicating this misunderstanding and unequal treatment of women’s heart disease. Continue reading “How these doctors have saved thousands of women”