A heart attack, also widely known as myocardial infarction, is among the most dangerous forms of medical trauma a person can suffer. A heart attack occurs when artery blockage reduces or stops the blood flow to a portion of the heart, thus damaging the heart muscle. Most patients, however, can recover with timely and proper medical treatment.
Though heart attacks are very common medical emergencies, they are often either overlooked or misdiagnosed. If left untreated, a heart attack can lead to permanent disability or death. Studies show that up to 60,000 individuals are rushed to hospital emergency rooms each year for heart attack symptoms, only to be sent home—and then diagnosed with a heart attack later on.
Common signs and symptoms of a heart attack
Sometimes, cases of heart attacks are misdiagnosed because the symptoms appear mild, are not obvious, or are confused with other conditions. While a heart attack can often cause intense or sudden symptoms, other patients only experience slight discomfort. Medical professionals should pay close attention to patients experiencing the potential symptoms of a heart attack, such as:
- Chest pain
- Rapid pulse
- Shortness of breath
- Dizziness or lightheadedness
- Nausea, vomiting or indigestion
- Discomfort or pain in other areas of the upper body, such as the arm, shoulder or back
Since signs and symptoms of a heart attack vary widely from person to person, each case must be thoroughly evaluated based on that particular individual’s details.
Causes of heart disease misdiagnosis
All across the United States, heart disease is considered to be the leading cause of death in both men and women. Despite this, however, misdiagnosis of such a heart condition continues to be common. Some causes of heart disease misdiagnosis include:
- Ignoring early warning signs
- Mistaking symptoms of a heart attack for less fatal conditions
- Failing to order appropriate tests
- Misinterpreting test results
- Failing to refer patient to a qualified specialist
- Poorly calibrated or maintained equipment
Reasons for misdiagnosis
Some of the common reasons that doctors may misdiagnose a heart attack are:
- An individual is only experiencing mild symptoms;
- EKG results may be normal;
- Symptoms may be similar to another condition;
- An individual may have no documented history of heart disease or any other conditions;
- An individual may not fall under the profile of a typical heart attack victim.
Women and heart attacks
A National Institutes of Health study showed that women are more prone to experiencing heart attack symptoms other than chest pain, and that women typically develop symptoms as much as a month or more before suffering from heart attacks. Less than 30 percent of the women in the study reported chest discomfort or pain prior to having heart attacks, while 43 percent of the women reported experiencing no chest pain at all during any phase of the heart attack.
Misdiagnosis of heart attack
Sadly, many individuals who go to emergency rooms and doctors’ offices for symptoms of a heart attack are misdiagnosed with other conditions. Some are sent home only to experience a fatal heart attack later on. Doctors, emergency room staff, and other medical professionals should be extra careful not to mistake symptoms of a heart attack for symptoms of other less serious conditions such as:
- Acid reflux
To assist with a diagnosis, the doctor may perform blood tests, an electrocardiogram or EKG, a creatinine phosphate conaise or CPK, a coronary angiography, and other tests. A doctor should be able to make a proper diagnosis after taking into account the reported symptoms, test results, past medical records, and family history.
If your doctor does not perform routine tests to determine if you are suffering from a heart attack and does not diagnose the condition correctly as a result, you may have a claim. Consult with an experienced attorney as soon as possible.
Compassionate medical malpractice lawyer ready to help
Misdiagnosis of a heart attack can have a damaging physical, financial and emotional impact on a patient and the patient’s loved ones. If you have lost a family member or if you or a loved one has suffered injuries or complications as a result of a misdiagnosis of a heart attack or any other condition, The Fitch Law Firm can help you file an Ohio medical malpractice claim and seek compensation for the injuries you have sustained.
We are here to fight for you and help you get the justice you deserve. Call The Fitch Law Firm at 855-LAW-OHIO or fill out our online consultation form to schedule a free consultation with an experienced Ohio malpractice attorney.