In our recent Advocacy Series Highlight, we discussed the realities of heart attack misdiagnosis, the most common negligence claim brought against emergency departments in the United States. Heart attacks are a sign of heart disease, the leading cause of death in both men and women. Over 700,000 people in Pennsylvania suffer from heart disease, almost half of whom are women. Heart disease is the leading cause of death in both men and women, resulting in 300,000 deaths each year.

1 in 5 women have heart disease, but many women don’t realize how common it is. Women are especially susceptible to heart attack misdiagnosis, for multiple reasons. Research indicates that because women don’t realize how common it is, they tend to dismiss the possibility when discussing their symptoms with their provider. Moreover, the providers are failing to properly diagnose heart attacks, which leads to higher complication and morbidity rates.

How does this happen?

Studies show that women, in particular younger women, are at higher risk for having their heart attack symptoms misinterpreted by their provider. Shockingly, misdiagnosis occurs even in female patients with cardiac risk factors. Doctors and health care providers have been known to misdiagnose a woman’s symptoms as anxiety or stomach problems rather than cardiac related. This can result in a missed diagnosis of heart attack or the failure to prevent a heart attack. These errors can be fatal. Knowing what you should look for can help you better identify and advocate for your health, hopefully preventing these tragic medical errors.

During a heart attack, you may experience a range of symptoms other than chest pain, tightness, or pressure. These include:

  • Pain in the jaw, neck, or shoulder
  • Stomach pain, nausea
  • Pain in one or both arms
  • Sweating, lightheadedness, fatigue

Conditions like obesity, diabetes, uncontrolled blood pressure, and smoking history put you at higher risk for having a heart attack. Talk to your doctor for information on how you can change your lifestyle to reduce your chances of having a heart attack.

If you or a loved one has suffered permanent injury resulting from a heart attack misdiagnosis, call or message us today. Our dedicated team at Scartelli Olszewski has decades of experience fighting for clients just like you.

 

Sources:

https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/heart-disease/in-depth/heart-disease/art-20046167

https://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health-topics/education-and-awareness/heart-truth/CHD-state-cards

https://www.cdc.gov/heartdisease/women.htm?CDC_AA_refVal=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.cdc.gov%2Fdhdsp%2Fdata_statistics%2Ffact_sheets%2Ffs_women_heart.htm

https://www.cdc.gov/women/heart/