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Why are women so often misdiagnosed when they have heart attacks?

| Jun 24, 2021 | Medical Malpractice

Heart disease is the leading killer of women. More women die from heart disease than even cancer. 

However, when women present to the hospital with the symptoms of a heart attack, far too many doctors miss the signs. Women may be told to take it easy, sent home with pain medication or some other type of drugs, depending on what the doctor thinks is wrong — and critical tests don’t get run. Some of those women end up in the emergency room with more severe symptoms when it may be too late to save them. Others die at home, never knowing what was happening to them.

Symptoms of a heart attack can be significantly different in women

Part of the problem is that women often don’t have the “typical” signs that they’re having a heart attack that are more likely to appear in men, such as crushing chest pain, shortness of breath and pain in the left arm. While women may experience these, the only symptoms they have may be pain in the upper back, abdomen, neck and jaw. They may have unusual weakness, fatigue and dizziness.

The American Heart Association (AHA) has made great strides in educating women about the symptoms that may be a sign of a heart attack or other heart-related condition. However, even when they seek medical help, they’re more likely than men not to get the correct diagnosis or treatment. They’re also more likely to have complications and worse outcomes – including death. 

Doctors can be held accountable

Physicians are being held accountable for these failures via medical malpractice suits. The key factors contributing to the legal actions were inadequate assessment and delay or failure to consult with or refer the patient to another medical professional.

If a loved one died from a heart attack or other heart-related condition that you believe could have been prevented with proper diagnosis and treatment, it’s wise to find out your legal options.