Did you know women account for nearly half of all heart attack-related deaths? This if often due to the fact that women respond differently to heart attacks and are less likely than men to believe they are having one. As a result, they may delay in seeking medical treatment or avoid treatment altogether.
Although heart disease can result from a number of different causes, there are some risk factors more commonly associated with the condition. Such risk factors include advancing age, obesity, diabetes, smoking, elevated levels of blood fats (cholesterol and triglycerides), high blood pressure and a family history of heart disease. Keep in mind, however, that you do not have to have all of these risk factors to fall victim to a heart attack.
The most common form of heart disease is atherosclerosis, or the buildup of fatty deposits known as plaque. When an area of plaque ruptures, it often causes a blood clot to form that suddenly blocks an artery. When this phenomenon occurs in a heart artery, it results in a heart attack. This is known as acute coronary syndrome (ACS) and getting life saving treatment within the first 30 minutes of onset can help prevent heart damage and death.
Signs of a Heart Attack
Often, individuals may not even realize they are having a heart attack. This is due to the varying nature and degrees of the attacks themselves. It is important, however to be able to recognize certain signs and conditions at the onset of an attack in order to receive proper medical care.
Some of the heart attack signs for women include:
- Pain or discomfort (a heaviness or squeezing sensation) in the center of the chest
- Pain and discomfort in other areas of the upper body, including arms, neck, back, jaw or stomach
- Shortness of breath
- Cold sweats
- Nausea and maybe vomiting
- Light headedness
If you experience any of these symptoms (even if they seem minor), call 911 immediately. Do not delay calling 911 to take an aspirin, or if your doctor has already prescribed nitroglycerin tablets, take them as directed as you are calling 911. Find a way to get swiftly and safely to your local emergency room. Once at the hospital, be proactive with your treatment and request a complete cardiac workup.
Causes of Medical Negligence
Mistaking the symptoms
Unfortunately for women, doctors often mistake their heart attack symptoms for those of a panic attack. If this happens they may fail to do a thorough cardiac workup on the patient, resulting in medical negligence.
Not ordering the right tests
If you want to be proactive about your medical treatment once in the hospital for a heart attack, you should insist on a complete cardiac workup if you are having any of the symptoms listed above. Remember, a complete cardiac workup doesn’t just consist of an EKG, but also includes blood tests and recording of the heart’s activity. If the doctor fails to order the proper tests to check for signs of a heart attack, they have committed medical malpractice.
Other tests that can be done while in the emergency room include cardiac catheterization, which is done in the cardiac catheterization laboratory. This test includes placing a small catheter in the artery of the groin or arm and feeding it to the heart. Radio opaque dye is then injected into the coronary arteries and the cardiologist can visualize the arteries directly and look for blockages. Blockages may be mild or severe, and depending on the degree of blockage, the cardiologist may have no recommendations or may call for medications, may use a stent to open up the artery or perform coronary artery bypass grafting.
Although heart attacks happen suddenly, it is imperative for any individual to know if they are at risk. If you or a loved one suffers from any of the risk factors mentioned above, you can receive a medical evaluation by meeting with a cardiologist. The cardiologist can do non-invasive tests such as a stress test (exercise treadmill test) or a nuclear stress test if you are unable to perform the exercise treadmill test, to see if there are signs or symptoms of ischemic heart disease or blocked arteries.
Keep in mind, that if you go to your primary doctor or other medical specialist and ask to be referred to a cardiologist, they need to refer you immediately. If he or she fails to do so in a timely manner, this could also be considered medical negligence.
If you have questions concerning issues of medical malpractice, or would like to learn more, please visit the Rue & Ziffra website or contact our office for a free consultation. The Florida medical negligence attorneys at Rue & Ziffra have experience in dealing with various types of malpractice cases and are willing to take your call. We also employ an on-location registered nurse available to answer confusing medical questions.
The above entry is NOT LEGAL ADVICE and should not be intended or construed as such. It is intended only as general information. No individual reading it should act upon it. Reading this entry does not create any relationship between Rue & Ziffra and individuals reading it. If you have questions or concerns, please seek professional legal counsel.