Heart Attack Misdiagnosis More Common in Women

A heart attack is a medical emergency. To ensure a patient experiencing a heart attack receives proper care, physicians must recognize the signs of an attack when one occurs.

Unfortunately, sometimes patients don’t receive the care they need because negligent doctors fail to diagnose their heart attacks. There’s also evidence to suggest that female patients may be victims of this form of negligence more frequently than male patients.

According to research presented at ESC Acute CardioVascular Care 2021, chest pain is misdiagnosed more often in women than in men. In a statement, study author Dr. Gemma Martinez-Nadal said, “Our findings suggest a gender gap in the first evaluation of chest pain, with the likelihood of heart attack being underestimated in women. The low suspicion of heart attack occurs in both women themselves and in physicians, leading to higher risks of late diagnosis and misdiagnosis.”

The study focused on the way chest pain was presented, diagnosed, and managed in patients of an emergency department between 2008 and 2019. The focus of the study was gender differences.

In total, 41,828 patients with chest pain were included in the study. Approximately 42% of these patients were female.

The study indicates that women patients themselves may be victims of lack of proper education regarding the fact that chest pain can be indicative of a heart attack or other such cardiac issue. Per the study’s findings, compared to male patients, female patients are much more likely to wait 12 hours or more from the time of symptom onset to head to the hospital for treatment.

When female victims do arrive at a hospital, their gender may influence their diagnoses. The study’s findings show that a doctor’s initial diagnosis is more likely to include acute coronary syndrome if a patient is a man. Additionally, even when risk factors such as smoking and hypertension were accounted for, women were still less likely than men to receive a diagnosis of acute coronary syndrome.

Why is Heart Attack Misdiagnosis a Common Problem for Women?

There’s no definitive answer to the above question. The author of this study believes it may simply be a matter of traditional perceptions regarding heart attack victims. According to Dr. Martinez-Nadal, “Heart attack has traditionally been considered a male disease, and has been understudied, underdiagnosed, and undertreated in women, who may attribute symptoms to stress or anxiety. Both women and men with chest pain should seek medical help urgently.”

That said, the fact that a doctor may have been conditioned to think of heart attack as a “male problem” doesn’t excuse a misdiagnosis. If you’re a woman who experienced health complications because a medical professional didn’t diagnose your heart attack or cardiac episode properly, you deserve to receive compensation for your losses.

Review your case with a lawyer for more information about your legal options in these circumstances. At the Weitz Firm, LLC, a Philadelphia medical malpractice attorney will answer your questions and determine if you have grounds to file a claim or lawsuit. Learn more by contacting us online or calling us at 267-587-6240.



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