Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Medical Edge segment on SCAD

My fellow SCAD-sister, Katherine, and I -- plus Dr. Hayes -- filmed a segment for Mayo for their "Medical Edge" series. Here we are!

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Spontaneous Dissection Study in Wall Street Journal

Another friend referred to this as "my" 15 minutes of fame. No. I'm too introverted; I don't want fame for myself, I want it for SCADs.

Here's today's story on Mayo's new SCAD research and how it happened, from the Wall Street Journal:

Many thanks to my heart-sister Katherine for encouraging Dr. Hayes to take on this study, and to Dr. Hayes for agreeing to it. This all happened at Katherine's instigation and she gets 100% full credit for talking to Dr. Hayes.

Here's hoping we'll someday have some answers.

And see, this is what I mean when I say that women's heart disease research is so crucial. We're doing our part to add to the medical knowledge about women's heart issues, and I'd encourage other women to participate as well.

Edit: Sorry some people are having trouble with the Wall Street Journal link. Here's an alternate from

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Life Post-Dissection and Heart Attack

Sometimes it's hard to explain to people how my life is different than it was before my spontaneous dissection and heart attack.

Here's a few examples.

Every so often, I like to change things up -- get a new purse, get a new, different color or style of wallet, etc.

Before, I could make my choice solely on finding something I really liked.

Now, my wallet purchases are based primarily on whether my two stent cards, pictured below, will fit. If they don't fit, it doesn't matter how much I love the potential new wallet; it's not coming home with me:

The cards are laminated to preserve the information; thus, they don't fold up neatly to credit-card size.

Another thing. Before, if I was sick and wanted some chicken soup, I could just buy it at the store.

Side note: Cooking is not my forte and it's not something that I enjoy. I realize that other people do, but I've never been particularly good at it, and my repertoire of dishes that I make and that taste acceptable is fairly small.

But now, thanks to having to watch my sodium intake, eating a bowl of chicken soup is no longer a spur-of-the-moment whim--seriously, check out the sodium content on most soups, and remember to double the number because even the microwavable bowls are two servings. And recall that healthy sodium intake is 2,000 mg/day, ideally less. You can get that in a single bowl if you're not careful.

Healthy Choice's Chicken with Wild Rice is a typical offering in the microwave chicken soup category; if you eat the whole bowl, you're getting 900 mg of sodium in one sitting -- because honestly now, who eats just half the bowl? It's not like you can really save it.

This means that if I want soup, I have to make it myself, and let me express my gratitude to whoever it was who invented the slow cooker.

Last night I spent a couple of hours chopping up chicken breast, chopping assorted vegetables, cooking the chicken, then putting everything in the crock pot so that eight hours later, I have a big batch of low-sodium soup, like so:

I'm having a tooth pulled (back upper left molar) tomorrow, you see, and have been warned that I'll probably be eating soft foods for several days after. So instead of going to the store and buying several cans of soup, I spent part of my weekend making it from scratch.

Now maybe these are things that wouldn't upset the apple cart of your life--if you love cooking, and if you're less fickle than I am about your purses and wallets... and don't get me wrong, I don't sit around wringing my hands about my limited accessory choices or the fact that I have to do a lot more advance meal planning--it's just the way my life is now, and it's different--more complicated--than it was before.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Big news! Mayo announces SCAD studies!

I cannot tell you all how excited I am to see this.

Mayo Clinic is now doing two studies on Spontaneous Coronary Artery Dissections.

This is huge. SCADs are so rare and so poorly understood, to have a prestigious institution like Mayo taking an interest and doing studies is fantastic.

Here's to advancing medical knowledge!

Monday, August 15, 2011

Research Studies & Clinical Trials

Today's topic is again research studies and clinical trials.

I've covered this before, but it's important, especially for women, because as far as cardiac research is concerned, only around 27 percent of the participants are female, despite the fact that heart disease kills more women than men every year.

The Clinical website is still one of the best resources for finding studies.

Also, don't be shy about letting your cardiologist know that you're willing to participate in research.

That's how I found out that I'm not a poor Plavix metabolizer. When the news came out early last year that some people may be taking Plavix and not responding to it, I talked to my cardiologist, and he got me into a study that a colleague was conducting.

All it cost me was some time--one appointment, essentially--and a couple of vials of blood, and a week or two later, I found out that I'm not in the 2 percent of Caucasians who are poor metabolizers. And my stats are now in this researcher's database as part of the study.

A lot of studies or trials are more time-intensive than the one above, and if I had been unlucky enough to be a poor metabolizer, my participation in the study would have been more extensive.

I know it's time-consuming to participate. I work about 30 miles from where I live, and the hospital and cardiologist who are following me are about 10 miles in the other direction from my work commute. I lose at least three hours of work every time I see my cardiologist, and as the cliche goes, "time is money."

But where would we be without these studies, without these clinical trials?

Not to go all melodramatic here, but it really is a matter of life and death.

Heart disease is still so poorly understood in women; we need to step up and do our part to help. If not us, then who?

Monday, August 1, 2011

BMI alone is not a good predictor of heart problems

New study out illustrates that Body Mass Index (BMI) alone is not an accurate predictor for cardiac problems:

They looked at medical information for over 200,000 people.

Their conclusion?

"BMI, waist circumference, and waist-to-hip ratio, whether assessed singly or in combination, do not importantly improve cardiovascular disease risk prediction in people in developed countries when additional information is available for systolic blood pressure, history of diabetes, and lipids."

In plain English: look at the blood work, not the shape of the person. If your numbers--blood pressure, blood sugar, and cholesterol--are good, don't let medical people browbeat you with where you are on the BMI chart.

Now I'm not saying don't eat well and don't exercise, but if you're living a healthy lifestyle and the numbers back you up, don't let anyone make you feel bad if you're not where the BMI says you should be.

That's how I'm reading these results, anyway.

And note, this study wasn't funded by a drug company--it's always important to read the "funding" or "supported by" statements on these things. It was funded by the British Heart Foundation (similar to the AHA in the US) and the UK Medical Research Council (another nonprofit). So there's no hidden shilling for a product.