Host Peter McCully chats with Carolyn Thomas, a Mayo Clinic trained women’s health advocate, a heart attack survivor, blogger, author, and speaker. Recently, she was a speaker at the Canadian Women’s Heart Health Summit held in Vancouver.
Every seven minutes a Canadian woman is diagnosed with heart disease, every 20 minutes a Canadian woman suffers a heart attack.
The author of ‘A Woman’s Guide to Living with Heart Disease,’ Thomas says that heart disease has completely changed everything in her life.
‘I’ve had to learn to pace myself every day interrupted by naps sometimes. For example, even chatting with you I considered an outing. I call these days, one outing day or two outing days or rarely I’ll have a three-outing day. I used to have five outings on my way to my first outing, pre heart attack. When you go from running around with your hair on fire to being very cautious and careful. It’s a very profound change.’
One of the key contributions Carolyn Thomas has made is shedding light on the gender disparities in heart disease. Traditionally, cardiovascular disease has been seen as a predominantly male issue, with research and treatments primarily focused on men. However, Thomas recognized that women often experience different symptoms and risk factors, leading to misdiagnosis and inadequate care.
‘The first time I went in, I was told that I was in the right demographic for acid reflux and I should go home and see my family doctor and get a prescription for antacids. I felt so embarrassed that day that when my symptoms continued, which of course they did, I was too embarrassed to go back to emerge. I believed that doctor, he told me very confidently, it is not your heart. Plus, I’d rather have indigestion than heart disease,’ says Thomas.
Thomas is working to bridge this gender gap by educating both women and medical professionals about the unique aspects of women’s heart health.
Through her blog and book, Thomas has been able to reach a wide audience, offering insights and practical advice on topics such as recognizing heart attack symptoms in women, managing risk factors, and navigating the healthcare system.
Her blog ‘Heart Sisters’ for women living with heart disease can be found here.
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