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Women and Heart Disease: Timely Diagnosis is Critical

By: Anapol Weiss

Some study findings about the prevalence and diagnosis of heart conditions in women may underscore the failure of physicians to appreciate and recognize that women’s complaints are heart-related.

Cardiovascular disease, typically manifesting as a myocardial infarction (blockage of one or more of the coronary vessels that supply blood to the heart, commonly referred to as a heart attack) is the leading cause of death in the United States, causing more deaths more than all cancers combined. Moreover, women who survive a heart attack have a significantly greater chance of death than men (24 percent versus 19 percent) in the first year after the heart attack. In addition to conditions like diabetes, high blood pressure, and high cholesterol, women have risk factors for heart disease related to pregnancy – gestational diabetes and pre-eclampsia. Psychological factors including depression, anxiety and stress play a bigger role in heart disease among women than men.

Women suffering from a heart attack typically present with different symptoms than men: the classic presentation of angina (chest pain caused by insufficient blood supply to the heart) is severe chest pain radiating to the left arm. However, with women, symptoms of angina many times present as shortness of breath, jaw pain, headaches, nausea, fatigue and even stomach upset.

Time is of the essence when diagnosing and treating a heart attack. Any delay in treatment can result in a decreased chance of a good outcome. If you think you or a family member or friend is having a heart attack, you should call 9-1-1 and take an aspirin. You should not drive or let a friend or family member take you to the hospital, instead wait for the ambulance. It is important you get to the hospital as soon as possible because time is muscle. This expression means that the sooner you can get treatment, usually involving admission to the cardiac catheterization lab for an emergency angioplasty procedure to open the block coronary blood vessel, the more likely you will survive and not suffer heart muscle injury. When a person has a heart attack, he or she immediately starts losing heart muscle, and as more time passes, the strength of the heart and the ability for it to continue beating diminishes. This is why it is critical to get prompt treatment as soon possible.

If you believe there has been a delay in the recognition, diagnosis or obtaining timely treatment for the signs and symptoms of heart attack, Anapol Weiss can help. Our attorneys have the experience to handle these types of cases and obtain compensation for injuries caused by a health care provider’s neglect and negligence.