Heart attacks are scary experiences, both for the victim and the victim’s loved ones. Even the thought of having a heart attack can create fear and anxiety in most people. Heart attacks can lead to permanent heart damage and death. However, more recent developments in cardiac medicine have improved outcomes for heart attacks treated early on. If the heart attack is misdiagnosed, those outcomes diminish.
If you suspect that you or your loved one has had a heart attack that was misdiagnosed, contact our skilled heart attack misdiagnosis attorneys at Schwartzapfel Lawyers P.C. We will leverage our medical expert resources to determine whether you have a claim and what you may be entitled to.

What Is A Heart Attack?

A heart attack occurs when the blood supply to the heart is cut off. The parts of the heart that do not receive oxygen-rich blood begin to die. The greater the delay in obtaining treatment to restore blood flow, the greater the damage to the heart. For this reason, misdiagnosis of a heart attack can kill.

Heart Attacks By The Numbers

About 610,000 Americans die from heart disease each year, according to the Center for Disease Control (CDC). It’s also estimated that 5.1 million people in the United States have heart failure. Of those 5.1 million patients, about half die within 5 months of diagnosis.

In New York, between 2010 and 2012, 13% of patients ages 65 and older that entered the hospital with some form of heart disease died before discharge. It’s impossible to know how many of those had heart attacks that were misdiagnosed.

However, a Washington State physician recently wrote that about 5% of autopsies find “clinically significant conditions that were missed and could have affected the patient’s survival.”

Know The Signs And Symptoms Of A Heart Attack

If you understand the signs and symptoms of a heart attack, you may be less likely to suffer from a misdiagnosis. Signs and symptoms of heart attacks include:

  • Chest pain
  • Tightness or discomfort in the chest
  • Discomfort in the upper body, such as the neck, jaw, shoulders, back and stomach
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Nausea
  • Lightheadedness
  • Cold sweats

One in five heart attacks is silent, meaning that the person was not aware that they were having a heart attack. Knowing these signs and symptoms can save a life. If you think you or someone you know is having a heart attack, call 911 immediately.

Heart Attack Risk Factors

There are many risk factors for heart attacks. Certain medical conditions can increase your risk of heart attack, as can behaviors and genetics. Some of the medical conditions associated with heart attacks include:

  • High blood pressure
  • High cholesterol
  • Diabetes
  • Coronary artery disease
  • Acute coronary syndrome
  • Angina
  • Aortic aneurysm and dissection
  • Arrhythmias
  • Atherosclerosis
  • Atrial fibrillation
  • Cardiomyopathy
  • Congenital heart defects
  • Congestive heart failure
  • Peripheral arterial disease
  • Rheumatic heart disease

Heart Attack Misdiagnosis

In a study done by the New England Journal of Medicine, they looked at over 10,000 patients, 48% of whom were women who went to the emergency room with chest pain or heart attack symptoms. The study found that women younger than 55 were 7 times more likely to be misdiagnosed than their male counterparts.

Heart attacks that result in death can be the result of malpractice if the doctor failed to make a timely diagnosis of ischemia based upon chest pain and abnormalities in testing and to treat the ischemia either medically or with some sort of intervention to open up the blockage and restore the blood flow before there is a heart attack.

A misdiagnosis of a heart attack can come in many forms. Such a misdiagnosis can include:

  • failure to diagnose the heart attack;
  • diagnosing the wrong disease, such as acid reflux or anxiety;
  • only a partial diagnosis, such as diagnosing some heart condition, but not the correct one; and
  • a delayed diagnosis in which the doctor does diagnose a heart attack, but not until long after it should have been identified.

Alarmingly, when patients are given the standard EKG or ECG in an emergency department, research has discovered that emergency room physicians may not detect high-risk EKG abnormalities. Without a correct diagnosis, appropriate treatment cannot be rendered, leaving heart attack patients with a higher risk of death.

Heart Attack Misdiagnosis And Medical Malpractice

Failure to perform the standard diagnostic tests when a patient is showing signs of heart attack is malpractice. Standard diagnostic tests for heart attack and heart disease include:

  • Electrocardiogram (EKG/ECG)
  • Angiogram

The New York heart attack misdiagnosis attorneys at Schwartzapfel Lawyers P.C. can help you determine whether you have a viable heart attack misdiagnosis claim against your physician. We have a proven track record of success in helping our clients obtain the evidence they need for a successful claim. Contact us today at 1-888-575-6410 or fill out our online contact form for a free case evaluation. We will fight for you!