A woman sits on a bench but holds her chest in agony because of chest pain.

Did you know that heart disease is the number #1 cause of death for American women? If you didn’t, you’re not alone. 

According to the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention, 44% of women aren’t aware of this fact. They also have trouble recognizing the signs of a heart attack until it’s too late. Tragically, so do their doctors. 

It’s frightening to think that a doctor could miss the signs of a heart attack. But here’s the awful truth: studies have shown that they misdiagnose them much more often in women than in men. That’s because symptoms can show up differently between the genders. Worse still, a misdiagnosed heart attack can have deadly consequences. 

Misdiagnosed Heart Attacks Have Devastating Consequences

Emily Holcraft was the spitting image of health. A 41-year-old triathlete with no family history of heart disease, she was surprised to feel a bout of crushing fatigue after a workout one day. Then came a shooting pain in her left arm, shortness of breath, and jaw pain. 

After arriving at a hospital, ER personnel examined Holcraft and performed an electrocardiogram. Results came back normal, so Emily was given the diagnosis of panic attack and sent home with anti-anxiety medication. Four hours later, she collapsed on her living room floor. 

An ambulance rushed Holcraft back to the ER, where blood cultures showed she had a heart attack. A cardiac catheterization revealed four blockages, two of which were greater than 90%. While a doctor was trying to place stents in her heart, a guide wire cut her main left artery. Now she needed emergency open heart surgery.

Despite all the odds stacked against her, Holcraft survived the ordeal. But she has had to continue a daily medication regimen to this day, and years went by before she could participate in sports. 

Many women aren’t so lucky. Heart attacks are silent killers, and can take lives without much warning. That’s why not taking a woman’s symptoms seriously can be deadly. 

When doctors fail to pay attention to all signs and symptoms, they can make bad calls and commit misdiagnosis malpractice. When this happens, doctors waste precious time. Countless lives are lost, when they could have been saved by a correct diagnosis. 

EKG heartbeat symbol.

Misdiagnosis Malpractice is More Common for Women 

When you think of heart attack symptoms, you probably think of chest pain. But there are many other symptoms, especially in women. Here are some of the lesser-known symptoms of heart attacks (also known as associated symptoms):

► Stomach pain

►  Sudden or unusual fatigue

►  Cold sweating

►  Shortness of breath

►  Nausea 

►  Dizziness

►  Heart palpitations

►  Pain or discomfort in the jaw and neck, 

►  Pain or discomfort in the arms or between the shoulder blades

A study published in the Circulation medical journal found that women were more likely than men to report the symptoms listed above. But 53% of the women surveyed in the study said that their doctors didn’t think their symptoms were heart-related, compared to 37% of the men. 

It’s common for doctors to diagnose these symptoms as signs of less serious conditions, like acid reflux or anxiety. Like Emily Holcraft, they are sent home with medication, or told, “it’s all in your head”. 

The study also revealed another key piece of information: women are more likely than men to report their symptoms early. So why is misdiagnosis malpractice more prevalent among women? 

Doctors Take The Wrong Approach

So why is misdiagnosis such a worry for women? The answer is that for decades, health care providers have been diagnosing women with criteria based mostly on men. Until now, not much research has focused on the differences in symptoms that women can experience. 

The Lancet, a medical journal, put it this way: “The historic failings of cardiology to take a balanced approach to research have led to fundamental flaws in the care for women with heart disease and has cost the lives of many women.”

Where there is no diagnosis, there is no treatment. Data published in Women’s Health Issues in December 2018 revealed that women are also less likely to receive aspirin, be resuscitated, or be transported by an ambulance when they show heart attack symptoms. 

An older woman hold her heart while experiencing chest pain.

Are You Or Someone You Love A Victim Of A Misdiagnosed Heart Attack?

If so, you may deserve compensation. But filing and fighting a misdiagnosis malpractice claim is difficult to tackle on your own.  

Hampton & King has won millions of dollars in damages for victims of medical malpractice, and we can do the same for you.  Allow us to use our 60+ combined years of experience in your favor. Call us at (713) 489-0993 or click here for a FREE case review today.