Tag Archives: WPLongform

Women, controversial statin guidelines, and common sense

1 Dec

by Carolyn Thomas  @HeartSisters

101109expIf you’re a heart patient, I’m betting that you’re already taking one of the cholesterol-lowering drugs called statins. That’s because these drugs – with brand names like Lipitor, Crestor, Zocor or any of their generic forms – are routinely prescribed to those diagnosed with cardiovascular disease. Many studies (largely funded by the drug companies that make statins) suggest that, for heart attack survivors, these drugs may help to significantly lower our risk of having another cardiac event. It’s what doctors call “secondary prevention”.

Some studies further suggest that statins are also useful for those who’ve never had heart disease, but who do have high LDL (or “bad”) cholesterol – what’s called “primary prevention”. But recently, statins hit the front page of The New York Times with a big fat *splat* when new clinical practice guidelines for treating/preventing heart disease were released by the American Heart Association and the American College of Cardiology (both heart organizations that are coincidentally largely funded by drug companies, too). The guidelines essentially said: from now on, forget about your LDL numbers. It’s all about your risk factors now. 

The likely result of this change, as I observed here and here, is the recommendation that, as long as you have a detectable pulse, you need to take statins. 

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When patients are seen as “The Enemy”

30 Oct

by Carolyn Thomas  @HeartSisters

My daughter loves her career as a probation officer. She is very good at what she does, and finds the work both challenging and rewarding. Yet her client case load includes some of the most unsavoury of individuals, found guilty by the courts of child abuse, domestic violence, sexual assault or worse, many of them  living with added complexities like addictions or mental health issues. She’s been insulted and screamed at by distraught clients. Police are sometimes dispatched to her workplace to intervene in potentially dangerous crises. Few of us could even imagine working in her office every day.

Yet whenever I ask my daughter what kind of day she’s had today, I marvel at her continuing ability to truly care about the work she does, despite the many challenges of working within the criminal justice system, dealing with an often-desperate clientele, and an almost overwhelming legal bureaucracy.

Contrast that perspective with the collective unrest among physicians who seem to hate their jobs.  Continue reading

The weirdness of Post-Heart Attack Stun

14 Oct

by Carolyn Thomas  @HeartSisters

Jodi JacksonI‘m laughing right out loud as I type this post, although I am the last person you’d think would ever laugh at another person’s heart attack story. Usually. But I love Jodi Jackson’s concept of “Post-Heart Attack Stun” – and I just had to laugh at her delicious examples of this concept at work, both during and after her heart attack at age 42 exactly two years ago.

Although I didn’t realize until I read about Jodi that there was even an official name for this cardiology concept, I sure knew what she was talking about.   

Post-Heart Attack Stun is what Jodi calls the period following a heart attack where everything seems so surreal that you really don’t absorb what has just happenedContinue reading

What really goes on in your friendly online patient group

20 Sep

by Carolyn Thomas  @HeartSisters   3rd in a 3-part series:

It turns out that online patient discussion forums may not all be the noble grassroots support groups that I once believed them to be. For example, unless they are small independent online sites, or have secure academic, government or clinical funding  (like Virtual Hospice, which operates its active end-of-life care community thanks to ongoing financial support from the Winnipeg Regional Health Authority and Cancer Care Manitoba), the site owners of most major online patient support groups are figuring out how to “monetize” their work. That’s how biz developers talk . . .

Make no mistake, my heart sisters: few online site owners (except for individual patients hosting those smaller private forums) are running a feel-good charity for us patients purely out of the goodness of their hearts.  Continue reading

Online patient groups: why so under-used?

12 Sep

by Carolyn Thomas @HeartSisters    2nd in a 3-part series:

This may come as a shock to health care professionals, particularly to the ones who cringe when their patients bring in health information they found via Dr. Google. But it turns out that the accuracy of information found on online patient support groups is actually surprisingly reliable. For example, the British Medical Journal reported that most false or misleading statements in online patient groups are in fact rapidly corrected by other participants in subsequent postings. And there aren’t many of these false or misleading statements. The journal published an interesting study that found only 10 of 4,600 online patient group postings studied (that’s just 0.22%) were actually found to be false or misleading. But of these, seven were identified as such by other site participants and corrected within an average of four hours and 33 minutes.(1)

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