When a doctor misdiagnoses a heart attack, it can be a fatal mistake. For instance, maybe a doctor thinks that a patient is suffering from stress or even heartburn due to their diet. The doctor may tell the patient that they just need to take some over-the-counter medication or get better sleep. But none of this actually helps with the heart attack, and the patient can pass away after they leave the medical center and return home as a result of the harm their body has suffered.
Concerningly, some studies have found that this kind of misdiagnosis happens more often with women than it does with men. A major reason why this occurs is because of the way medical professionals assess heart attack symptoms.
Men and women may have different symptoms
Generally, doctors look for chest pain before anything else to diagnose a heart attack. They may believe that chest pain has to be present or that it is just the most common sign that they should look for. When someone isn’t having any chest pain, even if they have other symptoms of a heart attack, a doctor may be more likely to consider making a different diagnosis.
For a long time, doctors assumed that chest pain was the primary heart attack symptom for both men and women. However, studies looking into the symptoms that women reported – especially when they are relatively young – found that chest pain is not always at the top of the list. Women often have different symptoms. When doctors assume that they should be looking for chest pain – as they may with an older man – they could misdiagnose heart attacks in younger women.
Women often report feeling nauseous or dizzy when having a heart attack. Some of them do talk about feeling discomfort that is similar to heartburn. Neck pain is also a common symptom that they report, along with jaw and back pain. Experts warn that women may only have these “less traditional” symptoms. They may not report chest pain at all, or that may come later. But that does not mean that they’re not having a heart attack.
Have you lost a loved one because of a tragic misdiagnosis? If so, it may be time to look into all of the legal options at your disposal. Similarly, if you’ve suffered harm as a result of a misdiagnosis that you’ve experienced personally, seeking legal guidance can help you to explore your rights and options effectively.