Mary Knudson launches Heart Sense blog

A superb patient resource from heart specialist, Edward K. Kasper, MD, and award-winning health journalist, Mary Knudson.

Johns Hopkins writing professor and veteran health journalist, Mary Knudson, has been at the forefront of the sci/med blogosphere as of late. Here at PLoS blogs, Mary wrote a guest post at Deborah Blum’s Speakeasy Science about pulling her new blog from US News & World Report on its first day due to unanticipated advertising infiltration of her content.

Mary’s blog, Heart Sense, was to have spoken to the issues face by patients diagnosed with heart failure, a condition that she began to face personally about seven years ago. Serendipitously, I had the pleasure of visiting with Mary two weeks ago and speaking with Dr. Val Jones of Getting Better Health and oncologist Dr. Robert Miller of the ASCO Connection blogs at her Johns Hopkins School of Medicine Faculty Development Class, Writing Health Stories for the Public.

At dinner afterward, Mary told Val and I her long story of diagnosis with heart failure and the surprisingly long period of mismanagement of her condition by several medical teams. As my jaw dragged across my plate of Baltimore crabcakes (yes, backfin meat is tough to get out of a goatee), I couldn’t believe that an experienced health writer went through such an ordeal – I also couldn’t help imagining how many others with less health care experience might be similarly mismanaged for even longer.

The culmination of Mary’s experience with heart failure was co-authoring a book with the cardiologist, Dr. Ed Kasper, who finally treated her according to national guidelines of the American College of Cardiology and the American Heart Association. The book is aptly titled, Living Well With Heart Failure: The Misnamed, Misunderstood Condition.

Mary’s account of her journey with heart failure as told to Val and me was intensely personal and, obviously, painful to revisit. So, I was awed yesterday to see Mary launch her new blog, HeartSense, with that very story.

Heart failure is a condition in which the heart can no longer perform well enough to get adequate blood and oxygen to the body.  With 6 million people living with heart failure in the United States alone, it is already a huge medical problem and will get bigger as baby boomers continue to hit their fifties and sixties.  Heart failure is a serious condition that can be fatal, but I would learn that it often can be managed with the right treatments.  My own research about heart failure changed my life.

Go read. And thank you, Mary, for sharing your story. Your example and advice will certainly keep others from experiencing the same fear and confusion.

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5 Responses to Mary Knudson launches Heart Sense blog

  1. Deborah Blum says:

    Great post and it absolutely catches Mary Knudson’s dedication to her craft and courageous style of journalism. She’s a writer of rare integrity and I’m glad to see her work saluted here.

  2. Mary Knudson says:

    Wow! David, you are incredible. Thank you so much for appreciating my writing. This is a very interesting time for me because I am just writing my own first blog posts at the time that the students in my class you visited are turning in their first blog posts to me. You told my class that you have blogged about both science and personal stories and you recommended to them they try writing some personal ones. I think blogging helps us share and realize that we are all in life together. Thank you so very much for your support. I am still a blogging newbie and there is much I can learn from you pros.

    Mary

  3. Mary Knudson says:

    Deborah,

    Thank you so much. I am humbled. You are a role model for all science writers. Take, for example, your last excellent post on why more scientists should write about science for the public http://bit.ly/dmJEGv. I agree with you and add to that, more physicians should write about medicine and healthcare for a public audience. I am for the first time teaching a class about writing for the public to medical faculty and I am delighted with some of the thoughtful blog posts that just came in. Journalists, scientists, and doctors can stand side by side in the blogosphere in using our varied expertise to write about issues in the public interest.

    Thanks again so much to you and to David for your wonderful support.

    Mary

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  5. David says:

    Mary, the pleasure was mine entirely. I certainly don’t underestimate how painful it is to revisit all of your travails but you and Dr. Kasper are saving many others from that, or worse, with your writing.

    Believe me, you’re the pro that *I* need to learn from!