In 2008, Carolyn Thomas of Victoria, B.C. was a longtime public relations pro who suddenly became a heart patient. She managed to survive what doctors call the “widow maker” heart attack, despite being initially misdiagnosed with indigestion and sent home from the E.R. with textbook Hollywood Heart Attack symptoms.
That same year, she became the first Canadian ever accepted to attend the annual Science & Leadership Symposium for Women With Heart Disease at the world-famous Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota. Since graduating from this prestigious patient advocacy training program, she has spoken to thousands of women (and quite a few men!) about what she learned at the Mayo Women’s Heart Clinic. Her presentations have been described as "part cardiology bootcamp and part stand-up comedy". Audiences include women living with heart disease (and many more who just want to learn how to avoid becoming one!) as well as health care professionals at medical conferences ranging from the Philippines to Boston.
Carolyn is best known, however, for her award-winning blog HEART SISTERS, which has attracted over 8 million views so far from 190 countries. Her writing has been republished internationally, including in the British Medical Journal. She also serves as a Patient Reviewer for cardiology papers submitted to the BMJ for publication. Few topics attract as much media interest as her powerful essays on the known gender gap in women's heart health diagnosis and treatment. Her story of misdiagnosis and survival was featured in the launch video accompanying the Institute of Medicine's 2015 landmark report on diagnostic error called "Improving Diagnosis in Health Care" (which she hastens to add does not mean she endorses the report's perplexing failure to recommend mandatory reporting of such errors - "...now is not the right time...").
Carolyn’s very active on social media such as Twitter (@HeartSisters) and is also working on a new book based on her blog posts called "HEART SISTERS: A Survivor's Take On Living With Heart Disease" which will be launched by a major U.S. academic publisher in early 2018.
Industry Expertise (2)
Health Care - Services
Areas of Expertise (7)
10 Best Heart Disease Blogs (personal)
Named by Healthline
ePatient Scholarship winner (personal)
Medicine X conference, Stanford University School of Medicine
Top 10 Online Influencers (personal)
Named by ShareCare
Women's Health Hero (personal)
Our Bodies, Ourselves. One of 20 inductees from seven countries honoured for women's health activism
Media Appearances (7)
Medical Research has a Sex Problem
When her tests came back normal, Carolyn Thomas was mortified. Even from her desk in the palliative care department of British Columbia’s Royal Jubilee Hospital, Thomas knew how busy the ER could get. She had just wasted her coworker’s precious time only to be diagnosed with acid reflux.
The Heart Sisters Blog: Feature Interview with Carolyn Thomas
In this interview, EP Lab Digest had the opportunity to speak with Carolyn Thomas, patient advocate and founder of the Heart Sisters blog (http://myheartsisters.org/)...
Why is heart disease in Canadian women still being missed?
The Globe and Mail
Carolyn Thomas went to her local emergency room complaining of chest pain, nausea and pain in her left arm. Acid reflux, the doctor told her, and sent her home...
This Is Your Heart: Taking Control Of Your Health
It’s fair to say I wouldn’t ever have become an advocate for women’s heart health had I not been sent home from the Emergency Department with a misdiagnosis of acid reflux — despite my textbook symptoms of chest pain, nausea, and pain down my left arm. I left the hospital that morning feeling completely embarrassed — because I’d just made a big fuss over nothing! Of course, my symptoms returned, over and over – but there was no way I was heading back to the hospital...
Raising heart disease awareness among women
Global News tv
Women are six times more likely to die from heart disease than from breast cancer. And as Elaine Yong reports, the risk is even greater among “young” women.
Empowerment Comes From Knowledge at your Heart Your Health
Vancouver Coastal Health Research Institute
The talk not only brought together four of Vancouver’s leading specialists in women’s health and cardiology to share their wealth of knowledge, but it also enlisted the help of patient advocate Carolyn Thomas and graphic facilitator Sam Bradd as knowledge translators who helped the audience understand the information being given and how it may affect or help patients...
Heartwarming talk returns to Monterey
Heart attack survivor Carolyn Thomas shares her experience and knowledge gained from the Women Heart Science and Leadership Symposium at the Mayo Clinic. In 2008 Thomas had “Hollywood heart attack” symptoms: chest pain, left arm pain, sweats...