In writing Healing Hearts: A Memoir of a Female Heart Surgeon Kathy Magliato, MD has two purposes: to share what is it like to be one of the few heart surgeons who happens to be female, and to raise awareness about the impact of heart disease on women.
Anyone who has aspirations to be a surgeon or enter the medical field will find that part of the book interesting. She shares why she wanted to go into medicine, her path there, and specifically why she chose thoracic surgery as a specialty, and then how she went on to become a transplant surgeon.
Part of the memoir leans a bit too far into the self-indulgent for my tastes, but I also recognize that when one is writing about one’s life, it’s hard not to come across in this way.
The information about heart disease in women is fascinating. It’s incredible how much traditional medicine and media make it out to be a man’s disease. When we think heart attack, we think man. Because of this, women’s symptoms are ignored and they are far more likely to die as a result of a heart attack than a man.
For this reason alone, women should read this book so that they can be their own advocate.
This information is presented in an excellent way — fascinating, readable, and not at all heavy-handed, and even lyrical:
[The heart] does not rest. It does not tire. It is persistent in its drive and purpose. Yes. It is an object of beauty and awe.
The heart is also the great equalizer. It levels the playing field between women and men. Inside the chest cavity we are the same, men and women. Men’s hearts are neither stronger nor greater than women’s hearts.
Likewise, if you take two people of different race and cover them completely with sterile drapes, I cannot tell [their race] by looking at their hearts. Discrimination is an external phenomenon. On the inside, we are all equal.
And yet, death from cardiovascular disease is discriminatory against women because it has killed more women than men every year since 1985! Cardiovascular disease attacks the hearts of women and kills in epidemic prportions. It is a misogynist.
From Healing Hearts: A Memoir of a Female Heart Surgeon by Kathy Magliato, MD (page 20)
Jennifer Donovan blogs with all her heart over at Snapshot. She’s watched three grandfathers go under the knife and the chest-crackers, and now wonders about the heart-health of the women in her life.