All posts tagged: health

The Real Gender Gap in Heart Disease

Because I’m that guy, I took a poll at the recent family barbecue. “Heart disease—who has it worse? Men or women?” I asked. The answers came quickly. My mother-in-law and sister-in-law said, “Women.” My father-in-law, arms crossed, said confidently, “Men.” My mother-in-law remembered hearing about how heart disease affected women more than men during the February American Heart Association (AHA) “Go Red for Women” campaign. Apparently, the message wasn’t heard by the men at this family gathering. They were moved by stories of men—fathers, brothers, friends—they knew who died from heart disease. We are taught that facts should trump feelings, evidence should trump anecdotes, and at first glance it would appear the men are too in touch with their feelings. It is the mission of advocacy organizations like the AHA to raise awareness. Charts like this one are widely disseminated and used in countless presentations on the topic: The graph demonstrates that over the last few decades the number of women dying from heart disease has been significantly higher than men dying from heart disease. …

A Contrarian View of Digital Health

“The pursuit of health is a symptom of unhealth.” —Petr Skrabanek Picture Jim from Kentucky. A farmer, tall, Peterbilt hat. Just retired. He takes basic meds for high blood pressure and diabetes. Arthritis slows him but he has no cardiac symptoms. He plays cards, goes fishing and hangs out with his grandkids. Jim’s family bought him a smart watch, so he could improve his health. The watch kept telling him that his heart rate was low. Jim called his family doctor, who arranged an urgent cardiology visit. Jim’s electrocardiogram showed occasional premature ventricular contractions (PVCs). His cardiologist worried because PVCs can indicate trouble. Jim tried to reassure his doctor, saying, “I feel well.” The cardiologist insisted on further testing. One of the scans—known for its propensity for false-positives—showed an abnormality. So Jim, the asymptomatic happy man who met the cardiologist because of a smart watch, had a near-normal coronary angiogram—a test that requires placing a catheter in the heart. Soon after the procedure, Jim stopped talking, his face drooped and he could not move the …

She Did Not Go Gently

In August 2017, my wife Buffy was diagnosed with early onset colon cancer. She was 41 years old. In April 2019, she passed away. Our five-year-old daughter and seven-year-old son lost their mother. I lost my best friend. She and I were together half of our lives, married 18 of them. She did not want to die. She was an amazingly accomplished woman. Girl Scout Gold at 16, national first vice president of the Children of the American Revolution, and president of the university chapter of the Society of Women Engineers in undergrad. Bachelors in civil engineering from Georgia Tech, masters in construction management from Stanford, certified construction estimator. She built buildings. Big ones. Cool ones, that everybody loves. She was a talented woman in a male dominated industry. To my knowledge, she succeeded at every single thing she ever set her mind to, save beating cancer. Her face lives in the Atlanta skyline. There was never any hope, if we’re being objective. Her first CT scan showed a major obstruction of the colon, twenty …