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Boston women often misdiagnosed for heart attacks

Hospital emergency room personnel in Massachusetts and throughout the country sometimes miss the signs of heart attacks in women because female patients often don't exhibit the classic signs of chest pain. When women have a condition known as acute coronary syndrome, which can suddenly result in blockage of blood to the heart muscle and result in a heart attack, they often suffer from a misdiagnosis from medical professionals who do not look for other classic coronary symptoms. The delay in diagnosis can have severe and sometimes fatal consequences.

As many as 35 percent of hospital patients do not report chest pain when experiencing a heart attack. These patients are more likely to be misdiagnosed in emergency rooms and have a higher rate of death. Men are more likely to have chest pain when experiencing coronaries, but even in patients of both sexes who do not have chest pain, other common symptoms are often present.

Among the common symptoms that medical professionals should look for when heart attack is possible are weakness, feeling hot, shortness of breath, cold sweat and pain in the left arm or shoulder. Most patients tend to exhibit at least one of these additional symptoms, with studies showing that women experience them more often than men.

Patients who believe that they have experienced misdiagnosis in the emergency room or families of individuals who have died due to misdiagnosed coronaries may be able to seek restitution from hospitals and medical professionals involved. Knowledgeable personal injury attorneys experienced with medical malpractice matters could review such cases and be able to offer advice on how best to proceed if a physician or hospital error is apparent.

Source: Health 24, "Heart disease often misdiagnosed in women", Jeff D. Gorman, September 17, 2013

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