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Why doctors often misdiagnose women’s heart attacks

On Behalf of | May 31, 2024 | Medical Malpractice

Women are in greater danger of a heart attack misdiagnosis than men. It can happen to both genders, of course. But it has become statistically clear that women are far more likely to experience this issue, meaning they face a substantial level of risk. Every year, women pass away from heart attacks that they could have survived if they had received proper treatment.

Is there something specific that causes this difference between the genders? Why is it that doctors would make a misdiagnosis more often with female patients than with male patients?

Presenting different symptoms

The issue often comes down to the symptoms that a patient will present. They can be very different from one person to the next, and there are some stark differences between men and women.

For example, men tend to have more cliché symptoms, like a crushing weight on their chest, difficulty breathing and general chest pain. If a man comes to the emergency room complaining about these symptoms, the doctor will quickly assume that it is a heart attack.

Women, however, often have more mild symptoms, like neck pain or jaw pain. They may mention that they feel like they have indigestion or they are nauseated. They could feel fatigued. All of these symptoms could still be a heart attack in women, but doctors are less likely to think of it first because the symptoms are so different. Therefore, doctors may send women home to recover from heartburn and indigestion when they really need emergency treatment for a heart attack.

If you’ve lost a loved one due to a doctor’s mistake, take the time to look into your legal options.