Study shows women who have heart attacks are most likely to be misdiagnosed

Study shows women who have heart attacks are most likely to be misdiagnosed

(Toledo News Now) - A new study shows that women who have heart attacks, especially younger women, don't get treatment fast enough and even once they do get to the Emergency Room, their symptoms are often misdiagnosed.

The common symptoms often include chest pain, shortness of breath, and pain radiating down the left arm. 

Studies show more than 15,000 women under the age of 55 die of heart disease in the United States every year, but could that be due in part to the fact that women have different, or misdiagnosed, symptoms?

Experts say that most women tend to experience other symptoms along with chest pain, including neck pain, jaw pain, indigestion, fatigue and nausea.

“In women, unfortunately, the symptoms may or not be quite as classic,” said Dr. Adil Karamali, Cardiologist at ProMedica. “Women can present with just shortness of breath, which may or may not be associated with the chest discomfort, they may have only nausea. Jaw discomfort seems to be a common finding in women, a little bit more so than men.”

Some doctors say when in doubt about possible cardiac symptoms, check with your physician.

“I actually had a woman who presented with left elbow pain, and she was a tennis player who also happened to be a leftie. But it truly was a cardiac issue. Even the most subtle symptom should be at the very least investigated. And if the investigation is completely benign, well, that's wonderful, but I think they should have it investigated,” said Dr. Karamali.

He says equally important is to pay attention to risk factors, such as family history of heart disease, high blood pressure and elevated cholesterol levels.

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For more on the study and its author click here.

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