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Coronary Artery Disease, Judgment and Interrogation




Carolyn Thomas, 58, of Victoria, Canada was going for a morning walk when she felt sick. The pain radiated down her left arm and enveloped her chest. She was nauseated and sweaty.
After running a few heart tests, the emergency room doctor told Thomas that he was confident that he could diagnose acid reflux. For an antacid prescription, go home and see your family physician.
For a few weeks, she tried taking antacids every day for her symptoms. Thomas felt like she had acid reflux and was unable to walk.
Thomas went to the ER fearing she would die. Thomas returned to the ER fearing she was dying. She discovered that her pain in her chest and arm was caused by a widowmaker’s heart attack. 95 percent of her coronary vessels were blocked.
A shock to the heart
Thomas and all those who knew her were shocked to learn that she had severe coronary heart disease (CAD). She was healthy, fit, and didn’t smoke. In her blog Heart Sisters, she discusses her case about women and heart disease.
Thomas said that the most common question was “How could you have a heart attack ?!'”?”
Thomas, a long-distance runner for nearly 20 years, seemed to be convinced that she had brought on the disease.

“The questioner needs to be reassured that this bad thing won’t happen to them, so they seek out answers to confirm their unrealistic belief in bad things happening to other people, not me,” Thomas states.
She says that interrogators on the other end can feel unfairly judged.
People who are healthy can have heart attacks. People with coronary heart disease are likely to have high cholesterol or high blood pressure. However, most people feel fine. Deepak L.Bhatt, MD, executive Director of interventional cardiovascular programs at Brigham and Women’s Hospital Heart & Vascular Center, Boston, states that not all people with coronary artery disease have any of these risk factors.

Thomas wonders if people would believe she had a heart attack due to her diabetes or smoking habits. She says, “It could mean that my heart disease is self-inflicted.”

Thomas discovered two years after her heart attack that she had a history of dangerously elevated blood pressure (preeclampsia), during pregnancy. Risk factors include early menopause, polycystic-ovary syndrome, and early menopause. Thomas states that these things cannot be prevented and are “certainly not self inflicted.”
Thomas states that even though obesity is a risk factor for heart disease, it doesn’t justify judgmental attitudes.
She says, “Blaming the patients is an attempt to reinforce my belief that this diagnosis could not touch me or any of my family.”
Why Heart Disease isn’t Received Enough Love
You may have heard that October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Thomas claims that there is a shocking ignorance about heart disease, even though it kills more women in the United States than all other forms of cancer.
Thomas states that breast cancer is often viewed as a devastating diagnosis that strikes the innocent out of the blue. Heart disease is still misunderstood.
A One Heart Sisters blogger recalled a conversation between coworkers after she had a heart attack.
“They were talking to breast cancer awareness. While I agreed it was a worthy cause they didn’t realize that heart disease is the No. Is heart disease the number one killer of women? One woman responded, “Yes, but you bring it on yourself.” You won’t have a problem with your heart if you take care of yourself.
Bhatt, Brigham and Women’s physician, is not surprised. “It is rare for people to blame patients for having cancer. Heart disease is more common than most people realize.
Escape the “Judgment Area”
Thomas believes it is human nature for friends, family, and coworkers to be curious about major events. She picks her listeners carefully to avoid asking too many questions. Sometimes people you expected to be supportive might disappoint. You might also find support in the most unlikely places.
Ironically, your loved ones might not be the best listeners if you need to vent. They may be too concerned about you. Thomas states that these people need to hear us tell them we are better now and that things are normal again and that the frightening health crisis is over, so they can relax.
Thomas also said that you can choose who you confide in. A generic response is fine if you are uncomfortable sharing. You could say, “Thanks, for asking.” After my follow-up appointment with the cardiologist, I will be able to learn more about it.
Thomas’s Heart Sisters reader prefers to say, “I have more questions than I can answer right now.”

WebMD Feature
Reviewed by Melinda Ratini (DO, MS) on November 11, 2021


Carolyn Thomas, a heart attack survivor; founder of Heart Sisters blog; author of A Woman’s Guide to Living with Heart Disease.
Deepak L. Bhatt MD, executive director of interventional cardiology programs, Brigham and Women’s Heart & Vascular Center Boston.
Society for Cardiovascular Angiography and Interventions: Pregnancy and Your Heart
American Heart Association: “Heart Disease Awareness Decline Spotlights the Urgency To Reach Younger Women And Women of Color.”

(C) 2021 WebMD, LLC. All rights reserved.

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New GR Pharmacy to Serve Spanish-speaking Patients




GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — By the end of the year, Grand Rapids’ Roosevelt Park neighborhood will have a new pharmacy.

Trinity Health Clinica Santa Maria began construction Monday morning on the $1.5 million project. The new pharmacy will include both walk-up and drive-thru services.

Trinity Health Clinica Santa Maria practice leader Kameron Selleck it will offer convenience in a neighborhood that doesn’t have a pharmacy close in proximity, making it challenging for patients to get their prescriptions in a timely manner.

“A lot of our patients do encounter a lot of social barriers in their lives,” Selleck said.

He added that a language barrier can make it difficult patients to get their prescriptions. He said nearly every employee at Clinica Santa Maria is bilingual in Spanish and the plan is for that trend to carry over to new pharmacy and pharmacy tech hires.

“I think this project was announced almost five years ago, so it’s here,” Selleck said. “I just really encourage the community to be as excited as we are.

The pharmacy is at 730 Cesar E. Chavez Ave. SW (formerly Grandville Avenue) at Martin Luther King Jr. Street (formerly Franklin Street) in Grand Rapids. It will be the seventh Trinity Health pharmacy in the Grand Rapids area, with the other locations being Cathedral Square, the Wege Building at Trinity Heath Saint Mary’s, Hudsonville, Rockford, Byron Center and Southeast Grand Rapids.

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Tulip Time Crowds Encouraging for Returning Festivals




HOLLAND, Mich. (WOOD) — Tulip Time saw big crowds this year as it returned to a more regular schedule.

The event was cancelled in 2020 and scaled back last year because of the pandemic.

Hot temperatures caused damage to some of Holland’s tulips, Tulip Time organizers say.

The heat caused challenges for the 2022 festival. The Tulip Immersion Garden, a new attraction, had to close early because the hot temperatures caused too much damage to the flowers, Tulip Time Executive Director Gwen Auwerda said.

“They don’t like 80 degree, 90 degree weather. Tulips prefer it to be about 40 at night, 60 to 70, maybe 80 during the day,” Auwerda said.

Heat closes down Tulip Time Immersion Garden early

The organization is working on final numbers but saw attendance return to pre-pandemic levels.

“I do know that the carnival exceeded 2019 by 25 to 30%, so that was fabulous for them and it was packed everywhere in town,” Auwerda said.

Kevin Knight, the owner of Market Zero, said the festival definitely provided a boost as they worked to keep up with demand. 

“It’s a huge kick off to your summer season,” Knight said. “Our fridges were completely full and got completely empty and completely full and completely empty, so it was about everything we could handle.”

Market Zero in downtown Holland on May 16, 2022. Inside Market Zero in downtown Holland on May 16, 2022.

The return of crowds could be good sign for other events coming back this summer, like the Festival of the Arts in Grand Rapids. Mark Azkoul, an organizer for the event that began in 1970, sees the success of Tulip Time as encouraging.

Tulip Time has record-breaking opening weekend

“We’ve been out for two years so this is a big thing for us and for the city to get Festival back up and going,” Azkoul said.

Organizers created the Plein Air event for 2021, which combined outdoor art and music.

The 2022 event runs June 3 through June 5. After taking a break because of the pandemic the festival needs extra help.    

“A lot of people still don’t know yet festival is coming back, so we really want to get the word out. We need more volunteers,” Azkoul said.

People interested in volunteering can sign up on the Festival of the Arts website.


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Mom Does ‘small Part’ to Help Parents Who Need Formula




HOLLAND, Mich. (WOOD) — Though there appears to an end of the baby formula shortage in sight, it’s still causing problems for parents, so a mother in Holland did what she could to help.

Abbott Nutrition has announced its entered into an agreement with the federal Food and Drug Administration to restart its Sturgis plant within two weeks. The closure of that plant has been a huge contributing factor to the shortage. The company expects its products to ship to stores eight weeks after production resumes.

But for now, many parents can’t find the formula they need. The low supply has some stores limiting the number of formulas customers can purchase, adding that they are in “extraordinary high” demand.

The baby formula shelves at a Meijer in Holland.

So Caitlin Dampier, a mother of two whose youngest is a 3-month-old girl, stepped up to help where she could.

“I really wish I could help out more, but this is just my small part,” Dampier said.

She got a box of Enfamil formulas that she’s not using because she’s breastfeeding.

“When you’re pregnant, you get free samples and so I thought I would just offer mine for free for mothers who need them,” Dampier said. “I kept it around in case I wasn’t able to breastfeed.”

5 things to know if you can’t find baby formula

Dampier made a post on Facebook this week directed at parents who can’t find formula. The box she received included three cans of Enfamil formulas and two ready-made formulas.

Two mothers reached out to her, including Kourtney Hann, another Holland resident. She’s one of thousands of mothers across the country who have had to go to great lengths to find food for their baby.

“I have had to go to stores maybe 45 minutes away just to even try to get formula,” she said. “It’s very hard to find them where I’m at right now. I went to Walmart yesterday and all they had was Similac and my daughter has a really bad reaction to Similac.”

Hann was able to connect with Dampier and picked up a can of Enfamil. Dampier left the box on her front porch with the message, “Please take only the formula you chose and tear out some coupons for yourself. My prayers are with you during this difficult time.”

The box of Enfamil products Caitlin Dampier left at her door for mothers to pick up.

Hann said she was down to her last can of baby formula which lasts her about five days. Now that she has received another can from Dampier, she’ll be able to feed her 9-month-old for the next two weeks.

“Being a mom is hard enough as it is. You have so many other struggles and to be afraid to know if you’re going to be able to feed your baby or not is a struggle,” Dampier said. “You want to do everything for your kids so when you’re not able to it’s hard. It’s just the worst feeling in the world.”


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