When someone comes to the hospital with the belief that they are having a heart attack, the doctors are going to consider their symptoms and make a diagnosis. As such, it’s important that the doctor knows exactly what those symptoms mean and doesn’t misdiagnose the condition.
In women, there are many different signs that may present themselves during a heart attack. A few examples include the following:
- Jaw pain
- Neck pain
- Trouble breathing
You may notice that this list doesn’t include chest pain, and that could be surprising. The truth is that chest pain is a symptom that men are more likely to report than women. Even female patients who have it won’t describe it the same way in all cases. For instance, a woman could describe having very minor pain or discomfort, while a man may say that it feels like his chest is being crushed.
Why doctors get it wrong
The problem with this is that the difference in symptoms can sometimes cause doctors to make the wrong diagnosis. They likely see more men who are having heart attacks, as they tend to have them at a higher rate. This means doctors are conditioned to look for that crushing chest pain and other staple symptoms in men. If a woman says that she has heartburn and neck pain, the doctor may not even consider that it could be a heart attack, even though those are the symptoms that she is describing.
When a misdiagnosis delays treatment, the negative ramifications can have a major impact on someone’s life. Along with their family, they need to know about all of their legal options.