A missed or delayed diagnosis can mean the difference between life and death. While heart disease is the number one cause of death for American women, it is not uncommon for medical professionals to miss relevant symptoms leading to a failure in providing a timely – often life-saving – heart attack diagnosis.
In a study by the Yale School of Public Health, nearly 3,000 patients (2,009 women and 976 men) were interviewed following an acute myocardial infarction (AMI). The study focused on what happened prior to the AMI. What symptoms preceded the AMI? What discussions took place between the patient and the healthcare provider?
Unfortunately, while there are symptoms common to heart attacks including chest pain and difficulty breathing, many symptoms present as non-chest pain occurrences. According to the study, nearly 62% of the women presented with more than three non-chest pain symptoms compared to 54.8% of the men who were interviewed. These non-chest pain symptoms can include stomach pain, shortness of breath, chest palpitations, nausea and dizziness.
More than half of the women, 53%, reported that their chosen healthcare provider did not think the symptom grouping was heart-related. Conversely, only 36.7% of the men reported receiving the same type of diagnosis from their doctors.
The devastating misdiagnosis
The Yale School of Public Health study found that women are more likely to report symptoms can be attributed to lesser-known signs of heart attack. These atypical or non-standard symptoms can include:
- Unexplained fatigue
- Shortness of breath
- Cold sweats
A delayed or missed diagnosis can lead to a worsening condition and results that are more severe than those that could have been prevented. If you or a loved one suffered medical malpractice due to negligence or inattention on the part of a medical staff, it is crucial that you seek monetary compensation from those responsible. Do not hesitate to seek the guidance of a legal professional.