A Woman's Guide to Living with Heart Disease

A Woman's Guide to Living with Heart Disease


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Heart disease is the leading cause of death for women worldwide. Yet most people are still unaware that heart disease is not just a man's problem. Carolyn Thomas, a heart attack survivor herself, is on a mission to educate women about their heart health. Based on her popular Heart Sisters blog, which has attracted more than 10 million views from readers in 190 countries, A Woman's Guide to Living with Heart Disease combines personal experience and medical knowledge to help women learn how to understand and manage a catastrophic diagnosis.

In A Woman's Guide to Living with Heart Disease, Thomas explains

• how to recognize the early signs of a heart attack
• why women often delay seeking treatment—and how to overcome that impulse
• the link between pregnancy complications and future heart disease
• why so many women with heart disease are misdiagnosed—and how to help yourself get an accurate diagnosis
• the importance of cardiac rehabilitation in lowering mortality risk
• what to expect during your recovery from a heart attack
• how the surreal process of coping with heart disease may affect your daily life
• methods for treating heart disease–related depression without drugs

Equal parts memoir about a misdiagnosed heart attack, guide to the predictable stages of heart disease—from grief to resilience—and patient-friendly translation of important science-based findings on women's unique heart issues, this book is an essential read. Whether you're a freshly diagnosed patient, a woman who's been living with heart disease for years, or a practitioner who cares about women's health, A Woman's Guide to Living with Heart Disease will help you feel less alone and advocate for better health care.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781421424200
Publisher: Johns Hopkins University Press
Publication date: 11/28/2017
Pages: 232
Product dimensions: 5.90(w) x 8.90(h) x 0.60(d)
Age Range: 18 Years

About the Author

Carolyn Thomas, a journalist and public relations specialist, is a graduate of Mayo Clinic’s WomenHeart Science and Leadership Symposium for Women with Heart Disease. She is the creator of the blog Heart Sisters.

Table of Contents

Foreword Martha Gulati, MD, FACC ix

Preface xiii

Acknowledgments xv

1 The First Signs 1

The Slow-Onset Heart Attack 3

Typical and Atypical Heart Attack Signs 4

There's Pain, and Then There's Pain 6

How Does It Really Feel to Have a Heart Attack? 8

2 Deadly Delay 19

Denial during a Cardiac Crisis 21

Would You Rather Be Embarrassed-or Dead? 23

Denial after a Cardiac Crisis 26

In Denial-Even Around Our Doctors 26

Where Are You on Your Own Priority List? 28

3 Finally, a Correct Diagnosis 30

How Does a Cardiac Misdiagnosis Happen? 32

Male-Pattern versus Female-Pattern Heart Disease 36

Are Diagnostic Errors in Cardiology Reported? 39

4 The New Country Called Heart Disease 42

What I Didn't Know before My Hospital Discharge 44

The Homecoming 46

And Then the Homecoming Blues 51

Why Am I So Tired? 53

Accepting-and Offering-Help 56

Welcome co Your New Country 61

5 Depressing News about Depression and Heart Disease 65

How Situational Depression Hurts Heart Patients 67

Depression, the Often-Overlooked Cardiac Problem 70

I Finally Ask for Help 72

The Stigma of Mental Health Problems 77

6 I'm What a Person with an Invisible Illness Looks Like 81

But You Don't Look Sick 82

Do You Suffer from Healthy Privilege? 84

"You Look Great!," and Other Things Not to Say to the Freshly Diagnosed 88

Is Fake Smiling Unhealthy? 91

7 One-Downmanship: You Think You Have Pain? 94

Haven't We Earned the Right to Complain? 95

My Unspoken (yet Weirdly True) Hierarchy of Heart Disease 98

There Is No Fair Fairy in Life 103

Looking for Meaning in a Meaningless Diagnosis 104

Inspiring versus Inspirational 109

But I Don't Want to Be a Patient Anymore 111

8 On Being a Good Patient 114

How Acute Illness Compares with Chronic Illness 115

Are You Being a Difficult Patient? 117

The Patient Voice 120

Common Courtesy in Medicine 124

Exam Room Etiquette 126

When Docs Become Patients, They Become Better Doctors 127

I'm Tired of Being a Good Patient! 129

9 The New Normal 132

The Cure Myth 133

Learning to Love Your Open Heart Surgery Scar 138

Practicing Resilience 139

Working versus Not Working 143

A Heart Patient's Bucket List 145

Are You Too Hard on Yourself? 148

10 Making Peace with an Errant Organ 150

Post-Heart Attack Stun 151

The Loss of Self 153

Ready for Talk Therapy? 159

The Enemy Within 161

Anger Raises Its Ugly Head 162

Yes, You Will Be Happy Again 164

Thanking My Brave Little Heart 167

Recommended Resources 169

Notes 171

Glossary 183

Index 203

What People are Saying About This

Roger S. Blumenthal

"This work is an important contribution to the discussion about heart attack and misdiagnosis in women. Thomas’s personal story—alongside the stories of millions of other women—provides a needed reminder of recognizing one's symptoms, avoiding denial, and seeking medical attention. This elegant book is a unique addition to women's health books and a necessary read for women and the people who care about them."

Edward K. Kasper

"If you are a woman, or love a woman, this is a book for you! Cardiovascular disease is the leading killer of women. Here is a book focused on women’s cardiovascular health. It is all here—prevention, diagnosis, and treatment. Read it for the people you love."

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