Facts on Delayed Diagnosis of Heart Attack
Heart attacks occur all year round nationwide. However, they are prevalent in the winter in most parts of Pennsylvania. The snow and ice removal that is necessary for this part of the country does put a strain on an already weak or impaired heart. Age also makes a difference, as does the bitter cold.
Also called Myocardial Infarction (the term used by the medical profession), a study done by JAMA Cardiology Studies in Sweden, where cold and snow are also common, shows that blood flow is constricted during the bitter cold. The causes of any Myocardial Infarction are twofold then–more exertion combined with less blood flow to the heart.
Detecting Heart Attack Immediately
If any signs or symptoms of a heart attack are noticed, it is imperative to go to an Emergency Room immediately. Some signs are subtle, while some are obvious. The Mayo Clinic has a whole list of signs to signal immediate medical care.
- Any type of chest pain, whether aching or squeezing. It can also be sharp.
- Unexplained pain in the shoulder, arms, back, jaw, neck, or even teeth. Sometimes pain can be in the stomach, and more women than men experience this type.
- Sweating, fatigue, nausea, and other feelings of unwellness. Some heart attack symptoms are so mild that the symptoms last days before true heart failure occurs.
- Dizziness and shortness of breath. Unless suffering some other underlying health issue, a typical individual does not become dizzy and short of breath without a cause.
- Indigestion and/or heartburn.
Gender Differences and Heart Attack
The rates of death from heart attacks are going down for men, according to a study done by the University of Utah. This is not true for women, though, as women of all nationalities are experiencing more heart disease now and heart attacks than previously. For Caucasian women, a heart attack is now the number one cause of death, according to the study above. There are several reasons for this.
- Women now hold stressful positions in life and juggle many duties. Stress can lead to high blood pressure and heart issues.
- Symptoms in women can be very mild or even non-existent, leading to a delay in care.
- The blood vessels of women do clog more thoroughly and more quickly, according to studies, than do those of men.
- Women tend to ignore illness more so than men.
Why Are Heart Attacks Misdiagnosed?
All the above reasons can apply, even when visiting an ER or seeing a personal physician. Since some symptoms are subtle, any doctor can easily dismiss heartburn as a minor food-related problem. If elderly, heartburn is common as the stomach muscles and esophagus relax and stretch as humans age.
The National Institutes of Health does publish studies that indicate that doctors oftentimes misdiagnose women, especially younger women, one in fifty times when presenting with the symptoms of a heart attack. In fact, women were seven times more likely to be misdiagnosed than men.
This does not mean that any doctor or hospital that does not rule out a heart attack is not culpable of medical malpractice, as even the most subtle symptoms need full exploration. Sudden death from a massive heart attack can occur if a mild Myocardial Infarction is overlooked, and doctors must practice a routine standard of care. The National Institute of Health routinely publishes materials that show that heart attacks are the number one cause of death in the USA for both men and women, so doctors must always have a possible heart attack uppermost in their minds.
Delayed Diagnosis Implications of Heart Attack
Again, according to the Mayo Clinic, each minute that a heart attack, even a mild one, is occurring, blood vessels are dying within the heart. Eventually, massive heart failure will occur and generally leads to the death of a patient. It is crucial to receive early intervention to save lives.
While many General Practitioners (Family Doctors) do screen for risk factors in routine checkups, most heart attacks are diagnosed via a visit to an ER. An Echocardiogram and heart monitoring, at the very least, should be used for any symptoms by ER doctors that may signal a heart attack. This is the general Standard of Care.
Conclusion on the Facts of Delayed Diagnosis of Heart Attack
If any signs and symptoms of a heart attack or even heart problems that would lead to a heart attack are ignored, it is a cause for medical malpractice or medical negligence claim against a doctor or a hospital.
If death occurs because of a delayed diagnosis or misdiagnosis, a wrongful death lawsuit might also be in order. If located in the Chester County area, Christian J. Hoey, Esquire, and his team of experts in all fields of medical negligence stand ready to fight for the rights of all their clients. Giving a call to this elite firm will not recover the damage done to one’s body. Still, it can recover the damage done to the mind, spirit, and finances that occurs with misdiagnosis or delayed diagnosis.