Heart disease is a serious health risk, and it is especially acute for women. For this reason, it is important that any signs of heart disease be detected early. However, misdiagnoses of heart disease in women do happen, and in order to get the best medical care possible, it is necessary to know the risks involved and the remedies available.
Heart disease manifests in different ways for women. A misdiagnosis of the symptoms can make an already bad situation even worse. A physician might completely fail to diagnose a heart attack, diagnose the wrong condition or make a partial misdiagnosis of the correct disease. Women, particularly younger women, are more often misdiagnosed.
According to the National Patient Safety Foundation poll, among men and women under 55, women were seven times more likely to be misdiagnosed with heart disease. The consequences of this were dire: a misdiagnosis doubled the chances of dying.
Reasons for Misdiagnosis
One reason heart disease in women is missed is a continuing misperception that heart disease afflicts mostly men and the elderly. Through educational campaigns, the prevalence of heart disease in women has gained attention. However, many women do not recognize the symptoms of heart disease and delay seeking treatment.
Women experience symptoms differently than men, with women less likely to experience chest pains, and more likely to exhibit “atypical” symptoms, such as:
- Jaw, neck or back pain
- Nausea or stomach issues
- Anemia or tiredness
Tests traditionally done for heart disease do not work as well for women and can result in a misdiagnosis. For example, a study by the European Society of Cardiology found that heart palpitations increased the risk of a disease called atrial fibrillation in women and men differently.
Remedies for Misdiagnosis
Women can take several steps to avoid a misdiagnosis. Choosing the right doctor is important to prevent a misdiagnosis. It is also crucial to be familiar with the symptoms of heart disease and communicate them effectively to the doctor.
If a misdiagnosis occurs, a second opinion or changing doctors is highly advised. It may also be wise to have more tests done or to ask that tests be repeated. An excellent option is to seek out a cardiologist who specializes in women’s health.
After a misdiagnosis that results in an injury or worsening condition, you may be entitled to compensation. A medical malpractice attorney with experience dealing with physician negligence and error can help you get fair compensation for the injury, lost wages and resulting medical expenses, as well as pain and suffering.