Misdiagnosis of Heart Disease: Higher in Women

Misdiagnosis of Heart Disease: Higher in Women

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    In recent news making the rounds, a woman Vicki aged 37 has been teaching her five-year-old son Gethin how to use FaceTime over fears that her mother Mandy Swift will suffer a fourth heart attack.

    Mandy Swift, 56, has previously had three heart attacks and therefore, Vicki is teaching Gethin how to raise an alarm in case of any eventuality. The first two of those heart attacks happened while she was living abroad while the third happened after she moved to Denbighshire to be close to her family.

    According to British Heart Foundation Cymru, women were more often likely to be misdiagnosed of heart issues because they are not seen to be at a risk of having heart diseases. This is a trend that the Welsh government has said it is trying to change so as to improve care.

    Vicki, whose father also died of heart attack at age 42, fears that her mother could have an attack while she is at work. According to her, “Every day on my way to work I give my mum a ring and if she doesn’t answer I panic,”. In order to improve her own prospects, Vicki who also had gestational diabetes when she was pregnant which puts her more at risk of not only developing diabetes but also heart problems has gotten herself a personal trainer at a gym.

    She has therefore made a call to improve women’s awareness of the symptoms of a heart attack, as well as their increased risks.

    Heart Attack In Women: What Are The Odds?

    The British Heart Foundation Cymru report claimed unconscious bias and systemic inequalities in healthcare were leaving women more at risk at every stage to have a heart disease. This is because according to them, women were more likely to be misdiagnosed, less likely to receive optimal care, and struggle to access cardiac rehabilitation. Statistics have shown that about 1,700 women are admitted to hospital in Wales every year with a heart attack while heart and circulatory diseases kill 4,900 men and 4,400 women in Wales every year. Despite this number, the disease is mostly regarded as mainly affecting men hence the bias.

    Consultant cardiologist Lena Izzat suggests a high risk of “an epidemic of heart failure and heart disease” unless action was taken. According to her, women often wait longer before calling for help after first experiencing symptoms of heart attack and this delay impacts negatively on survival chances.

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    What Is A Heart Attack?

    A heart attack also known as Myocardial infarction “MI” happens when there is a blood supply to a part of the heart muscle suddenly stops. This can occur when one or more of the coronary arteries supplying the heart is blocked. The more time passes without any treatment to restore the blood flow, the greater the damage to the heart.

    Heart attack is so common in the UK that every five minutes, someone suffers a heart attack. Also, studies have shown that about 1.35 million people in the UK have survived at least one heart attack. The survival rate after a heart attack is 70% but there are a number of heart attacks which are either misdiagnosed or diagnosed very late.

    There are two main types of heart attack:

    • ST segment elevation myocardial infarction (STEMI)- where there is a total blockage of a coronary artery
    • Non-ST segment elevation myocardial infarction (NSTEMI)- where there is a partial blockage of one or more coronary arteries. This type is more common.

    Signs And Symptoms Of A Heart Attack

    • Excessive anxiety
    • Pain or discomfort which may start in the left or central part of the chest and then extend to the arm, jaw, back or shoulder
    • Discomfort in the chest, neck, arm or abdomen either with or without exertion
    • Non-localized pain or discomfort
    • Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing, sweating profusely, nausea, light-headedness or loss of balance.

    Reasons For Misdiagnosis Or Delayed Diagnosis Of A Heart Attack

    There are different reasons why heart attack can be misdiagnosed. These include;

    • Poor patient medical history
    • Difficult presentation of ailment
    • Poor or inadequate assessment which may cause symptoms to be confused with indigestion or heartburn.
    • Failure to carry out proper investigations such as ECG.
    • Failure to correctly interpret test results.

    It is important that all relevant investigations are carried out before giving an all-clear. This is because, about 33% of all heart attack patients do not have chest pain at all and therefore they are at an even higher risk. Furthermore, Symptoms such as blackouts, fainting or breathing difficulty can also be associated with diabetes.

    Misdiagnosis of Heart Disease

    How Can We Help?

    Heart Attack is a very serious issue and should be taken as such.

    Failure to carry out appropriate diagnosis can;

    • Leave the patient in severe, and avoidable pain and discomfort. 
    • There is also a higher chance of permanent heart muscle damage and heart failure. 
    • Also, the patient may have to suffer a lengthy recovery period.
    • There will be increased financial losses and most likely need for special care and equipment for day to day activities
    • It can also lead to premature death

    If you or your loved one has been a victim of any of the above or other similar experiences as a result of negligent heart disease care, you can make a claim.

    At MND, we have specialist Medical Negligence Solicitors who have many years of experience dealing and representing clients of heart disease misdiagnosis claims. They have also won hugely satisfying settlement payouts for them. We will stand by you right from the consultation phase till your claim is won and you are compensated appropriately. We will also assist you in making available necessary documents to win your claims while ensuring that the entire claims process is stress free for you. Our solicitors are friendly, approachable, empathetic and very understanding. 

    What is more, we undertake your claims on a No win no fee basis where we will only take 25% of your total compensation fee after your case is won.

    Reach out to us today by filling out our online Free Claims Assessment Form and one of our solicitors will contact you to set up a meeting at your earliest convenience.

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