While heart attacks form the basis for countless news reports, books, movies and television programs, many aspects of the event remain shrouded in mystery. There are common symptoms, but they are not universal. Unfortunately, studies often find a historical disparity between how women and men experience the various symptoms of heart attack which has led to a shocking number of missed or misdiagnoses. When the symptoms of a heart attack are missed by a medical professional, however, the results can be devastating.
In one study, researchers conducted interviews with 2,009 women and 976 men between the ages of 18 and 55 to learn more about the symptoms they suffered. According to the data, 62% of the women presented with more than three non-chest pain symptoms. Conversely, 54.8% of the men interviewed presented with more than three non-chest pain symptoms. The researchers found that women were more likely to report symptoms including stomach pain, shortness of breath, nausea and dizziness.
Most troubling was the data that revealed the disparity between the women’s and men’s diagnoses. Of the women interviewed, 53% said their healthcare provider did not believe the presented symptoms were heart-related compared to 36.7% of the men. According to the data examined, healthcare professionals were more readily concerned about the potential for heart-attack when men presented the same cluster of symptoms as women.
A misdiagnosis can be devastating
Depending on the types of heart attack symptoms reported, it is crucial that the medical professional carefully considers all options for diagnosis. Symptoms can be atypical or typical, but the possibility of missing a heart attack diagnosis can have catastrophic repercussions. Women are more likely to report non-standard heart attack symptoms such as unusual fatigue, shortness of breath or sleep disturbances.
If you or a loved one has suffered a missed or delayed diagnosis or your complaint was misdiagnosed leading to a worsening condition, it is wise to discuss your options for monetary compensation with an experienced medical malpractice attorney.