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Cardiac consciousness: gender differences in the diagnosis of heart conditions

A certain type of massive heart attack strikes men so often that is often called the “widowmaker.”

But did you know that serious heart conditions are more likely to be misdiagnosed in women than in men?

In this post, we will inform you about recent research showing this is the case.

Evaluating symptoms

Symptoms of a possible heart attack or stroke often bring people to emergency departments. The classic symptom is of course chest pain. Other common systems include lightheadedness, fatigue and anxiety, as well as tightness in the arms, neck or back.

Both men and women experience these symptoms. For both men and women, chest pain is the most common symptom of a heart attack. But women are more likely than men to experience atypical symptoms of a serious heart condition.

For example, as a woman with a serious heart condition, you may experience nausea. You may vomit or experience pain in your jaw. These symptoms are not the chest pain or tightness commonly associated with heart conditions. But they should be telling doctors something.

The brutal triage of the ER

In the brutal triage of the ER, however, doctors may fail to detect that you have a major underlying heart problem. Your concerns may be dismissed or discarded entirely, or there may be delays in further testing that turn out to be very costly.

Even if the ER docs do an EKG, they may misinterpret the results of that test. After all, the EKG is only one indicator and so is the widely-used CAT scan. You may still have a serious heart condition even if it doesn’t show up right away on a particular test.

Research reveals concerns

Recent research has shown that women are more likely than men to experience missed or delayed diagnoses of heart conditions. Obviously that is a major threat to women’s health.

After all if a woman gets sent home from the ER despite having symptoms of a serious heart condition, she – just as much as a man – could suffer a massive and perhaps fatal heart attack.

Responding to your situation

If you are suffering heart or chest discomfort or are concerned about an immediate heart issue for other reasons, you should call 911.

If you or someone in your family suffered injury due to failure to properly diagnose your condition, you are in a very different situation. You may be confused about what happened and uncertain about how to proceed. To understand your options, it makes sense to talk with an attorney knowledgeable about medical malpractice law.