Americans experience an average of 935,000 heart attacks and 383,000 people suffer from cardiac arrest -- when the heart stops pumping entirely. Both heart attacks and cardiac arrests carry with them the serious risk of death and disability. In fact, the survival rate for sudden cardiac arrest in this country is less than five percent.
Medicine cannot be a backwater where historic inequities in care are much discussed, where the statistics of lives cut short are duly recorded, but not a finger is lifted to address systemic problems. Black lives matter in our streets, in our hospitals, in our clinics, and in our physician's offices.
We need to be more informed so that we can weigh the potential costs, risks and complications of heart test in women to determine what is best. Some of the risks include radiation exposure, dye reactions and vascular injury. Let's put that into context. One nuclear stress test, one of the most common heart tests, is equivalent to radiation exposure of 39 mammograms and up to 1,000 chest X-rays. In case you are wondering, this is a big deal.
The idea of being attacked by a shark, as unlikely as it is, is scary. But why, if the odds are so low? Because our perception of risk is not just about the numbers. It's about emotions too. There is no better example of how risk perception is more a matter of emotion than of quantitative reasoning than this classic illustration of how our fears sometimes don't match the facts.