Who Is Most At Risk For A Heart Attack Misdiagnosis?

June 20, 2016 by Carrie Capouellez
heart attack misdiagnosis

Over 1.5 million Americans suffer from a heart attack each year. While the most common symptoms of a heart attack may be well known, thousands of Americans are misdiagnosed causing serious health issues or even death.

What Is A Heart Attack?

A heart attack occurs when the supply of oxygen-rich blood to the heart muscle suddenly becomes blocked either by plaque or a spasm in the coronary artery. Without blood flow, sections of the heart can begin to die. Because of how quickly the heart muscle is affected, it is extremely important that a person suffering from a heart attack receive immediate medical attention.

While not all people experience the same heart attack symptoms, some of the most common symptoms include: chest pain, choking sensation, sweating, nausea, vomiting, shortness of breath, and irregular heartbeat.

Heart Attack Misdiagnosis

There are a variety of reasons that a heart attack might be misdiagnosed. The most common reason is the wide array of symptoms experienced by patients. Women often experience very different symptoms from men including pain in the upper abdomen, jaw, back, or neck, and extreme fatigue that lasts for several days. Even though the symptoms of a heart attack can vary greatly, physicians can perform tests to determine a heart attack diagnosis.

Because of the severity of heart attacks, misdiagnosis can be extremely dangerous. Research published in the New England Journal of Medicine found that women under the age of 55 were seven times more likely to be misdiagnosed than men under 55 years of age. For women that were sent home from the hospital with a heart attack misdiagnosis, their risk of dying doubled[1].

A heart attack might also be misdiagnosed in patients who are considered too young to experience a heart attack or in patients who lead a healthy lifestyle. However, anyone can be a victim of heart attack misdiagnosis.

Philadelphia Heart Attack Misdiagnosis Attorneys

If you or someone you know in the Philadelphia area had a heart attack and was not diagnosed in a timely manner, there is limited time in which to file a claim. Please contact the Philadelphia heart attack attorneys at Lopez McHugh LLP as soon as possible for a complimentary consultation.

[1] Pope JH, Aufderheide TP, Ruthazer R, et al. Missed diagnoses of acute cardiac ischemia in the emergency department. N Engl J Med. 2000;342:1163-1170.

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