Why are heart attacks underdiagnosed in women?

On Behalf of | Aug 23, 2022 | Medical Malpractice

Everybody knows the stereotypical image of someone suffering from a heart attack: They clutch their chests as crushing pain takes over, they’re short of breath and sweating profusely – right before falling over.

What if none of that happens? For many women, that’s entirely possible. Women can have none of those symptoms at all and still be in the middle of a heart attack.

Cardiovascular studies have typically focused on men

While things are (slowly) changing, the reality is that heart disease and heart attacks were typically considered “male” diseases. Medical studies used to almost exclusively involve male patients – and modern studies are barely cracking the surface of how heart attacks affect women.

Research does show that women tend to experience jaw pain, neck pain, back pain, dizziness and a sensation akin to heartburn long before they experience chest pain (if they experience it at all).

Doctors can be slow to adjust to new information

Even though the medical community has known for a while that women are equally at risk for heart disease and can have very different symptoms than men, doctors have been slow to adjust.

Many doctors assign a much lower risk of cardiovascular disease to women and ignore symptoms that are major warning signs that should prompt further investigation and more aggressive treatment. Hospitals, too, can be slow to recognize the acute symptoms of a heart attack when women come into emergency rooms for treatment.

If your doctor or hospital failed you or your loved one by not taking cardiovascular symptoms seriously (or even recognizing them in the first place), you may have a right to compensation for your losses.


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