A recently published study in the Emergency Medicine Journal may save doctors from a missed heart attack diagnosis in emergency room patients. Thinking that you are having a heart attack because of chest pain is one of the most common reasons to visit the emergency department. Correspondingly, the failure to diagnose a heart attack is one of the leading reasons that patients contact medical malpractice lawyers.
The study, by researchers at George Washington University, found that symptoms pointing to a heart attack generally differ depending on the race and sex of the patient. For example, white men usually present with typical, well-known symptoms like tightness and chest pain that spreads to the left arm. For African-American men, the tell-tale sign is generally excessive sweating. Black women suffering from a heart attack are likely to display excessive sweating and left arm pain. On the other hand, none of the individual classic heart attack symptoms was more or less predictive for white women.
In conclusion, “it is important for emergency medicine physicians to know that symptoms matter less for white women and black men and are more important for white men and black women,” said Dr. Ahmed Allabban, an emergency medicine resident at George Washington University Hospital.
Missed Diagnosis Causes Deaths
Furthermore, a new study from Imperial College in London says that a missed a diagnosis of heart attack may result in the deaths of as many as one on six patients.
According to the American Heart Association, these are the most common symptoms of heart attack:
- Chest discomfort. Most heart attacks involve discomfort in the center of the chest. Usually, the pain lasts more than a few minutes, or goes away and comes back. It can feel like uncomfortable pressure, squeezing, fullness or pain.
- Discomfort in other areas of the upper body. Symptoms can include pain or discomfort in one or both arms, the back, neck, jaw or stomach.
- Shortness of breath with or without chest discomfort.
- Other signs may include breaking out in a cold sweat, nausea or feeling light-headed.
People who have been injured because of a missed diagnosis should contact medical malpractice lawyers to seek compensation.