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Women remain at heightened risk of misdiagnosed heart attack

Over 50 percent of women state that when they sought medical care based on the belief they were experiencing a heart attack, their medical care provider falsely stated their symptoms were not connected to a heart attack or acute myocardial infarction. Instead, the physician was more likely to point to a different concern such as acid reflux.

In some cases, this misdiagnosis led to serious injury and even death.

Is misdiagnosis of acute myocardial infarction a common occurrence? Although a missed heart attack is not uncommon, researchers note the discrepancy between missed diagnosis in women versus men is problematic. After reviewing data from 2,985 patients (2,009 women and 976 men) ranging in age from 18 to 55 and admitted to hospitals throughout the country for an acute myocardial infarction, researchers found healthcare providers wrongly dismissed a supposed heart attack in 53 percent of women.

In comparison, physicians wrongly diagnosed one-third of the men who reported with similar symptoms. These symptoms can include shortness of breath, cold sweats, fatigue, dizziness, feelings of indigestion, pain in one or both arms and a radiating pain in the back as well as pain or pressure in the chest.

What does this mean for patients? Regardless of sex, medical professionals that fail to treat a patient that presents with these symptoms can be held liable if the failure results in serious injury or death. This can lead to a monetary award for the patient or patient's family to help cover the cost of medical care, missed wages, potential pain and suffering award as well as other related costs.

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