“Be alert to both the absence of normal as well as the presence of abnormal”

by Carolyn Thomas      @HeartSisters

It isn’t often that I’m wide awake at 1 a.m. But sometimes, a dream or a fire truck siren or whatever jolts me so wide awake in the middle of the night that sleep seems suddenly impossible. When this does happen, I’ve learned that I can sometimes lull myself back to sleep by turning on my bedside radio. (Radios! Remember those?)  My old clock radio is tuned permanently to CBC, our national Canadian broadcaster. And 1 a.m. is when CBC runs the Public Radio International program called “The World” . I love that show.

It isn’t often that I hear something on The World so perfectly applicable to women’s heart attacks that I’m moved to sit up in bed, grab a Sharpie and the little stack of post-it notes beside said radio, and quickly scribble down the words before I forget what’s just been said. But this was one of those times.         .    .    Continue reading ““Be alert to both the absence of normal as well as the presence of abnormal””

Heart attack symptoms: what women expect vs. what we get

by Carolyn Thomas    @HeartSisters

I wasn’t short of breath, or dripping with sweat. I had chest pain WITHOUT left shoulder/jaw/arm symptoms or any other signs of illness. I attributed my chest pain to stress.”

This recent Twitter comment from a nurse about her own heart attack raises an important concern:  have we done such a good job of warning women about freakishly weird non-chest pain heart attack symptoms that we no longer believe it’s really a heart attack unless we also have vague symptoms in a dozen other body parts?    .           . Continue reading “Heart attack symptoms: what women expect vs. what we get”

This is NOT what a woman’s heart attack looks like

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thatguy2.png.
This is a man told by the photographer to act like he’s having a heart attack.

 

by Carolyn Thomas    @HeartSisters

One of the reasons that I knew I wasn’t having a heart attack (even while I was actually having one) was my very inaccurate stereotype of what a woman’s heart attack can look like.

I used to think that heart attacks happen only to men. Old men. Mostly out-of-shape chain smokers and heavy drinkers.  Old, out-of-shape, smoking, drinking men, who one day out on the golf course suddenly clutch their chests in agony and keel over, unconscious. CPR. 911. Golf buddies yelling. Ambulance sirens. Paramedics. Defibrillator paddles. That’s a heart attack, right?

Wrong, my dear heart sisters. That’s NOT a heart attack.  Continue reading “This is NOT what a woman’s heart attack looks like”

Dear Carolyn: “Did I have a ‘real’ heart attack?”

by Carolyn Thomas    @HeartSisters

As part of my occasional Dear Carolyn series featuring my readers’ unique narratives about how they became heart patients, I offer today a medical mystery from an Oregon reader. After dueling physicians differed in their opinions of her diagnosis, Lynn Bay now wonders if she actually did have a “real” heart attack, as one of them had diagnosed. Her story may seem familiar to you if you’ve ever had your medical experience dismissed or minimized. Here’s Lynn’s story, with her permission: Continue reading “Dear Carolyn: “Did I have a ‘real’ heart attack?””