If you believe you’re having a heart attack and you go to the hospital or the emergency room, getting the right diagnosis quickly is important. The treatment needs to start as soon as possible. Any delay in this treatment can increase the odds of serious complications or even death.
Unfortunately, doctors sometimes misdiagnose heart attacks as other conditions. Studies have found that they do this more often than women than they do with men. Why is this?
A difference in symptoms
What often happens is that men and women will describe slightly different symptoms for heart attacks. Because heart attacks are more common in men on the whole, these are the symptoms that doctors have been conditioned to expect. The main one is chest pain, and it could also include shooting pain moving down someone’s arm.
However, women will often mention other symptoms and may just refer to the chest pain as discomfort. They may talk more about nausea, breathlessness, dizziness, heartburn and things of this nature. Many will even talk about neck pain when having a heart attack.
The problem is that the doctor is simply looking for things like severe chest pain and sweating, which are male symptoms. If those are not present, the doctor is more likely to believe the person is simply suffering from indigestion, a panic attack or some other relatively minor issue. They can entirely miss the fact that it is a heart attack and send the patient home without giving them the proper treatment.
If you have a loved one who has passed away due to a mistake like this, or if you’ve suffered serious injuries and complications yourself, you need to know what legal options you have.