Nearly everyone in the United States has at least an anecdotal understanding of the symptoms of a heart attack. Whether it was a family member, a friend, a co-worker or a classmate everyone recognizes the classic symptoms – chest pain, shortness of breath, a numbing sensation in the left arm. Unfortunately, there has been a historical disparity between how men and women experience the symptoms of a heart attack – and this has led to a shockingly common occurrence of missed or misdiagnoses.

Researchers conducted interviews with nearly 3,000 heart attack victims – a combination of 2,009 women and 976 men – to gain a clear understanding of the symptoms they suffered. According to the information gathered, nearly 62 percent of the women presented with more than three non-chest pain symptoms. These symptoms can include stomach pain, shortness of breath, nausea, dizziness and palpitations in the chest. 54.8 percent of the men interviewed also noted non-chest pain symptoms.

Additionally, 53 percent of women said “their healthcare provider did not think the symptoms were heart-related,” compared to only 36.7 percent of men.

A Misdiagnosis Can Be Devastating

Even though women generally exhibit atypical heart attack symptoms, if the condition is misinterpreted or ignored, young women have a higher chance of mortality or serious medical conditions following a heart attack.

While the majority of both men and women report typical, historically-defined heart attack symptoms, women are more likely to report atypical or non-standard symptoms, such as:

  • Unusual fatigue
  • Sleep disturbances
  • Shortness of breath
  • Lightheadedness, nausea or a cold sweat
  • Indigestion or gas-like pain

If you were misdiagnosed, your diagnosis was delayed or your complaints were ignored by your physician, it is crucial that you hold those medical professionals accountable for their actions. An experienced medical malpractice attorney can explain your legal options and rights under such circumstances.