Gerry Langan, a 34-year-old Asian American mom of twin toddlers, was diagnosed with heart failure due to her pulmonary tension. To monitor her heart and blood vessels, Langan sometimes wears a cardiac catheter inserted directly into her chest—a medical device that nearly cost Langan her life four years ago.1
It started when Langan noticed pus emerging from the area where her catheter had previously been inserted. She notified her regular cardiologists, who brushed off her concerns. As her symptoms got more severe, Langan was told that all that she needed was a simple antibiotic, even though she reminded them of her condition and voiced how much pain she was in. Infections from cardiac catheters can be deadly, and while an oral antibiotic can be used to treat mild cases, Langan’s infection was particularly intense.1
Her condition worsened, and eventually, Langan developed a fever and chills. She was eventually rushed to the hospital where doctors noticed that she was going into septic shock—signified by a super-high fever, shallow breathing, and disorientation—and immediately treated her for the infection.
As frustrating as it is, Langan’s experience with having pain dismissed can be a common ordeal among certain groups of people. Women tend to have worse outcomes than men do overall when they see cardiologists (e.g., their pain intensifies, or their condition deteriorates) and are more likely than men to die after receiving cardiological treatment.2 Women of color, particularly Black women, fare even worse: While heart disease is the leading cause of death among women of all races in the US, Black women are 2.4 times more likely to develop it than white women “and are more likely to die younger compared to white women,”3 Estelle Jean, MD, a cardiologist, tells SELF. The reasons for this are complex, but institutional sexism and racism—and a lack of access to affordable care—can play a major role.3,4,5
Doctors are humans too—and some might handle your treatment with certain gender or racial biases (or other limitations), which Langan felt played a role in her case. She now sees a cardiologist she really vibes with and is empathetic to her experience, though she met with a few doctors who weren’t the right fit—and showed some warning signs they weren’t in a position to treat her condition thoroughly—before getting to that point. If you’re looking for a new cardiologist—or are starting to cool on your current one—here are three red flags to watch out for.
They aren’t connecting the dots—or are getting lazy in the discovery process.Chest pain and shortness of breath can be common signs of a heart attack and heart failure in both men and women, but women may also experience different symptoms, like nausea and fatigue, which doctors can sometimes overlook.6 (Doctors are trained in spotting these differences, but only an estimated 22% of cardiologists fully implement them when treating women.) “A woman may complain about fatigue and is told to just exercise,” Sharayne Mark, MD, FACC, tells SELF, which could be (potentially) deadly advice if that fatigue stems from an artery blockage.
Source : Self.com