Never miss a story

Get subscribed to our newsletter

Developing hypertension in middle age increases a person's risk of heart attack or stroke later in life, according to a new study. VOA

Joyce Sasser was born in 1970 with no bones in her thumbs. Her doctors blamed thalidomide, a drug used to treat pregnant women experiencing morning sickness, until it was found to cause congenital abnormalities. Health

Sasser said her mother swore up and down she’d never taken thalidomide; the two risks she felt she’d taken were much, much milder. “She said ‘if two aspirin or half a glass of champagne could have done it, I am responsible, but I didn’t take thalidomide,’” Sasser said.

Sasser says despite that denial, doctors continued to believe their theory and implemented treatments accordingly – including one that permanently stunted her arms.

It wasn’t until Sasser was 20 and pregnant with her first daughter that doctors found the real reason for her abnormalities: Diamond-Blackfan anemia, a congenital issue in which the bone marrow fails to make enough red blood cells. As her mother had insisted for years, it had nothing to do with thalidomide.

Joyce Sasser was born in 1970 with no bones in her thumbs. Pixabay

Sasser’s mom’s experience – and the medical decisions she allowed, despite her protestations that the doctors had it wrong – are still all too common, even a half-century later. Sasser has learned over time how to manage the multiple medical difficulties that come with her condition, and, informed by her mother’s experience, she has learned to speak her mind about her medical treatment.

Empathy gap

Doctors hold a revered position in American culture. But studies are showing that excellence of care often can depend on how much a doctor empathizes with his patient, and the medical field in the U.S. is still overwhelmingly dominated by white men.

A 2008 study of nearly 1,000 patients in an urban emergency room found that women waited an average of 16 minutes longer than men to get medication when reporting abdominal pain. They were also less likely to receive it.

Also Read- Google Rolling out a New Feature to Alert your Contacts if You’re on Vacation

A study published in 2000 by The New England Journal of Medicine found that because women’s cardiac symptoms differ sharply from men’s, women are seven times more likely than men to be misdiagnosed and discharged from the hospital during a heart attack.

“I was in the ER with stereotypical heart attack symptoms,” wrote Nicki Coast Schneider, who participates in a Facebook group for female heart attack survivors. “The ER doctor was in disbelief and brushed me off, but took my troponin (protein used in diagnosis of heart attack) level anyway. It came back elevated, he ordered another test. That one came back higher. He said the machine must be damaged so he tested his own troponin level. His came back normal. I was immediately admitted.”

Schneider said the doctor later admitted he might have sent her home if the emergency room had been busier. As it was, she said, he ended up thanking her for the lesson.

“He was young and I assume right out of med school,” she said.

Her doctors blamed thalidomide, a drug used to treat pregnant women experiencing morning sickness, until it was found. Pixabay

According to a 2014 online survey of more than 2,400 U.S. women with a variety of chronic pain conditions, nearly half had been told that the pain was all in their heads. A full 91% felt that the health-care system discriminates against female patients.

A diagnosis of depression or anxiety can further damage credibility.

Martha Blodgett is a heart attack survivor. She is also on medication for bipolar disease. “As soon as doctors find out I’m bi-polar, I’m written off,” she said. “I actually had a neurologist walk out on me without saying a word.”

“They don’t listen,” said Lori McElhaney, whose doctor prescribed her antidepressants for a year, despite a diagnosis of hypothyroidism — a problem that requires an entirely different type of medication. McElhaney recently changed doctors. Her new doctor, a woman, “did more for me in one visit than he [her former doctor] did in over a year,” she said.

Also Read- YouTube Investing in Learning Content Across Indian Languages

Hypochondria stereotype

Medical journalist Maya Dusenberg, whose book “Doing Harm: The Truth About How Bad Medicine and Lazy Science Leave Women Dismissed, Misdiagnosed, and Sick” outlines the ways sexism in medicine is destructive to women’s health, said doctors sometimes take women less seriously than men, adhering to a centuries-old stereotype of women as more apt to complain.

Looking at studies comparing treatment of men to treatment of women, Dusenberg said, “I didn’t understand why so many women were being treated as hypochondriacs when I didn’t know any women who were hypochondriacs.”

She also describes how diseases that are common to women often get less research funding than diseases that affect men – no surprise, given that most decision-makers in medical schools are men. As a result, she says, maladies seen as “women’s diseases” don’t get as much academic attention.

Another author, Abby Norman, wrote “Ask Me About My Uterus: A Quest to Make Doctors Believe in Women’s Pain” of her struggle to get diagnosed and treated for endometriosis – a disease that almost exclusively affects women. Norman’s struggle was particularly rife with difficulties, as her severe problems set in during college and she did not have a supportive family to help her get treatment.

As her struggle to manage her illness continues, Norman is deeply aware of the complexities of securing and providing unbiased care.

Noting that not just women, but also people of color, children, and the elderly are often forced to settle for subpar medical care because of a doctor’s unconscious bias, Norman speaks of “layers of privilege” that influence how a patient is treated.

Of her own medical struggle, she told VOA, “there were certainly people in my peer group who would have had better access [to care], whether it be because they had family members that could support them or . . . were just in a better financial situation.

But then there also were people around me who had far, far less access, either because of their race, or their gender identity, or . . . any number of things.”

A study done at the University of Tennessee-Chattanooga in 2007 found that doctors tend to underestimate pain in patients they do not identify closely with – which, in an industry dominated by white men, translates to women, people of color, and children and the elderly. Strikingly, the study found that physicians were twice as likely to underestimate pain in black patients compared to all other ethnicities combined.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control says black women are twice as likely to have strokes as white women, and are much less likely to survive them. Patient advocates say the lack of empathy that causes doctors to underestimate pain levels can also result in lower-quality care, allowing for more strokes and fewer good outcomes.

Liz Zubritsky, a science writer based in Virginia, says her mother once had to return to a Massachusetts emergency room three times in one night while trying to get care for her own mother (Zubritsky’s grandmother), who had flu-like symptoms and was running a fever of 37 degrees Celcius (100 degrees Fahrenheit) – low by standard levels, but high for Zubritsky’s grandmother. Doctors sent the women home twice, saying the fever was not high enough to warrant admission. Zubritsky says it was not until a male relative, an oral surgeon, called to intervene, that Zubritsky’s grandmother was allowed a bed at the hospital.

What was frustrating, Zubritsky said, is that “she felt like she was being dismissed as making too much out of something that was pretty minor . . . . The doctor was not willing to take my mother’s word for it that it was very unusual for her to have a fever of 100 degrees.”

Persistence pays

While writers like Norman and Dusenberg are anxious not to paint medical providers as evil or uncaring, the faults in the medical care system have made it clear that getting good care sometimes takes extra work.

Sasser says: “Be your own advocate.” Having survived several types of cancer and other medical conditions related to her Diamond-Blackfan anemia, Sasser has a notebook in which she compiles all information related to her treatment, so she can save time during appointments by showing doctors the appropriate records.

Zubritsky says she once researched and compiled a Venn diagram (a series of interlocking shapes) of her father’s medications to prove to a doctor that his discomfort was likely caused by a drug interaction.

Norman did her own medical research to convince a doctor her appendix was inflamed, a condition he had missed. The resulting operation relieved her of years of pain.

Dusenberg says when seeking medical help, be persistent – even if a doctor tells you it’s all in your head. “Don’t be afraid to seek out a second opinion, or as many as it takes,” she says. “Trust that you know something’s wrong. You know what’s normal for your body.”

Lastly, it’s helpful to take a friend or relative along to the doctor – for moral support, asking questions, taking notes, or even just verifying the patient’s experience. Dusenberg notes that it can be helpful to tell a doctor what the illness is preventing the patient from doing, not just how it makes them feel.

Dusenberg also notes that while one can get better medical care by being a more assertive patient, the solution to the problem is not for every patient to become a super-patient or resign themselves to subpar care.

“So much of what we’re doing is asking individual women to compensate for the failings of the system,” she said. “We shouldn’t rely on that individual self-advocacy. The system should be better for everybody.” (VOA)



'E-Attorney' to help lawyers handle client information and case details easily.

By Ganesh Bhatt
A 10-year-old prodigy from Tamil Nadu's Vellore has created an app called 'E-Attorney' to help lawyers handle client information and case details easily. Through this app, users can sign in and add client documents and store other case related information quickly.
Kanishkar's father, who is also a lawyer, was facing great difficulty in keeping client details organised during the pandemic. Therefore, when the young boy had to choose a course subject for his coding project, he decided to create something that would help his father. Through 'E-Attorney', users can also contact their clients directly and the clients, who are given access to the app by their lawyer, can also easily view their case documents stored in the app.

brown wooden tool on white surface Lawyers are facing great difficulty in keeping client details organised during the pandemic. | Unsplash

Keep Reading Show less

Not only has the Queen of England long been a visitor to the racing at Ascot but she's also had the honour of having a winner of her own at the meeting.

By- Nanci SEO

Now we're into 2022, the anticipation for a new racing season is hotting up even more.

By the time the world focuses its gaze on Ascot in mid-June, records will have been broken, and new winners will have been celebrated in the other meetings such as the Grand National. However, there's nothing quite like the Royal Ascot meeting and the historic Ascot Gold Cup race, which has been running since 1807. The race is the first leg of the triple crown of thoroughbred racing in the UK, making it one of the most important on the racing calendar.

The meeting is held at the course, which is just 28 miles west of London and only a few miles from the residence of the British Royal Family, Windsor Castle. It's also been an event that the monarchy of Britain has often visited and had a personal interest in. Not only has the Queen of England long been a visitor to the racing at Ascot but she's also had the honour of having a winner of her own at the meeting as noted by Town & Country. Will there be another Royal victory this year? Let's look at some of the favourites for the headline race, the Gold Cup.


The six-year-old gelding's pedigree means he's a real threat to all his other riders at Ascot this year. Trueshan has previous experience of winning the course; he won in 2020 at the British Champions Long Distance Cup, with his jockey Hollie Doyle commenting, 'he went through the ground like a tractor, he loved it.' Going into 2021, he was much fancied after looking strong in the lead up to the meeting but was pulled when his trainer Alan King deemed the ground to be too firm. He had a successful season, winning the Goodwood Cup and the Prix Du Cadran in France in October. So he's in fine fettle going into 2022, does that mean it's finally his year to taste Gold Cup success?

Keep Reading Show less

Good Earth, released its first-ever limited-edition art prints in 2020.

Good Earth, released its first-ever limited-edition art prints in 2020, depicting flora and wildlife recovering their due place in nature.

Van Vaibhav is Good Earth's guiding concept. The brand has a profound passion for nature in all of its forms, and preserving the beauty of the forest is at the centre of everything. In keeping with this ethos, there is no better way to commemorate our 26th anniversary than by giving back to the environment.

The Dreamscape art print series celebrates the brand's birthday. Endangered and fragile creatures of wild paradise come alive with attention to their condition in India.

The artwork, titled 'Living on the Edge,' underlines the importance of getting a closer look at these wonderful creatures. While everything appears to be lovely and unconstrained, these endangered species are truly living on the verge of extinction.

The Dreamscape will be printed in 500 limited edition Poster prints, which will be available for purchase the brand's web store. All sales revenues - matched with an equal amount by Good Earth - will go towards the Wildlife Trust of India's aim to conserve and protect vulnerable and endangered species, as part of our ongoing relationship.

Good Earth's Founder and Creative Director, Anita Lal Google Earth's Founder Anita Lal spoke about the initiative, "Animals are so vulnerable, and their habitats are ever receding due to the pressure on land." |WikipediaWikipedia

Keep reading... Show less