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Understanding Your Heart Diagnosis

 

by the Go Red For Women Editors

Sometimes it feels like you need a special degree to simply understand what your doctor is telling you. Why can’t they just say, “You’re experiencing chest pains because there’s a decreased amount of blood flow and oxygen reaching your heart. And we need to start you on a treatment plan to reduce your risk for a heart attack.” Was that so hard?

Trying to navigate the complicated language your doctor is using when attempting to explain your diagnosis can be overwhelming. And considering that simple act of hearing your diagnosis will already be difficult to comprehend and digest, there’s nothing wrong with feeling intimidated or confused by what’s going on inside your body.

It took doctors over four hours to understand, explain and officially diagnose Rachel D’Souza-Seibert with Spontaneous Coronary Artery Dissection (SCAD), a rare and often misdiagnosed form of heart disease. But after a stressful episode of signing consent forms with her husband, being wheeled into a lab with frenzied nurses and doctors scurrying around her, and then enduring a long series of questions, the diagnosis started to sink in.

Heart disease is heart disease, right?

For starters, the term heart disease refers to many different types of health issues, all stemming from your heart. So, no, all forms of heart disease are not created equal.

Have a heart to heart

Ask questions until you’re both satisfied with and fully understand the answers your doctor has given you. Take notes, and if you need clarification, follow up with more questions. Worried your doctor might feel bothered by your laundry list? Don’t be. The truth is, doctors want a fully informed patient, and they will appreciate the fact that you want a complete understanding of your diagnosis and the ways it’s going to affect your life.

Get multiple opinions

The level and type of communication you have with your doctor is crucial to your ability to understand not just your diagnosis, but also the best course of action for a successful recovery. One way to improve the communication you have with your doctor is to seek a second opinion.  It’s something you shouldn’t hesitate to do, even if your diagnosis seems benign and simple to treat.

And don’t be surprised if it takes more than a second opinion before you get the treatment you need. For Lidia Morales, it took three doctors before she received a proper diagnosis. But because Lidia pushed for additional opinions and tests, she is alive today.

Find others who have stood in your shoes

Never underestimate the power of support from friends and family members who have been diagnosed with the same heart condition as you. And if that’s not enough, tap into support groups to find other women who have gone through the same experience as you and can share their secrets for success.

Take advantage of us

Ever heard the phrase, “Know thy enemy”? Well, as a woman, heart disease is your enemy. It’s the No. 1 killer in women, more deadly than all forms of cancer combined. But increasing your knowledge of this heart disease, you increase the odds of beating it. By choosing to Go Red, you’ve taken the power into your own hands. And we’re here to stand with you and arm you with the right information and education to understand what you’re up against. So take advantage of all the resources we have to offer.

1 comment

  • Jo Scott

    I wish there was more information regarding prinzmental attacks & the difficulty diagnosing that form of heart attack.