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Heart Attack Symptoms in Women

A recent New York Times piece discusses one woman’s experience with a heart attack and how that experience compared with that of her late husband. The article points out some common misconceptions and behaviors that may lead to a delay in treatment of heart attacks – based on the woman’s own beliefs or a lack of knowledge by healthcare providers.

There is a common misconception that cancer is the biggest killer of women. In fact, the number one killer of women is heart disease. Each year nearly half a million women suffer from heart disease. Heart disease kills more women than all types of cancer combined.

This misconception, coupled with the fact that women do not typically present with what’s become known as a “Hollywood Heart Attack,” can be lethal combination. A “Hollywood Heart Attack” is generally explained as the grabbing of the chest and sudden collapse. While men exhibit crushing chest pain that is commonly described in heart attacks, women are “somewhat more likely than men to experience some of the other common symptoms.” Those other symptoms may include neck, shoulder, back, and/or belly pain, shortness of breath, vomiting, and nausea.

Two thirds of doctors were unaware of the differences between men’s and women’s heart attack symptoms as late as 1996 according to one national survey. This is startling given the American Heart Association statistic that a heart attack occurs about every 34 seconds. The Women’s Heart Foundation reports that 42% of women suffering heart attacks die within 1 year while only 24% of men suffering from heart attacks die in that same time period. Further, heart attacks in women under 50 are twice as likely to be deadly compared with the same event in men.

If you are experiencing symptoms that you believe to be a heart attack, you should immediately seek medical treatment. Failure to recognize the symptoms of a heart attack can have serious, even fatal, results in both men and women. The heart attack lawyers at Lopez McHugh, LLP may be able to help if you or a family member was injured by a delayed or missed diagnosis of a heart attack. Our experienced medical error attorneys can discuss your case in a free initial consultation and discuss how victims of medical misdiagnosis can protect their rights. Call us today or fill out an online contact form for a free claim evaluation.