If a man comes into a hospital and complains about discomfort or pain in his chest, doctors are likely to assume that he’s having a heart attack. If a woman comes in and complains about shortness of breath, though, that same doctor may assume she has a respiratory illness, is suffering from anxiety, is having an asthma attack or something else.
In actuality, both patients could be the victims of heart attacks — but men and women simply experience the symptoms differently.
Additional heart attack symptoms for a woman
It’s not that women do not experience the chest pain and discomfort typical of heart attacks, according to the American Heart Association. These are still their main symptoms — but women have greater odds of experiencing additional symptoms. Those symptoms may be more troublesome than anything else the woman is feeling, so she may focus on those when speaking with medical professionals.
Some of the heart attack symptoms for women include:
- Jaw pain
- Back pain
- Shortness of breath
Doctors have to weigh all of this, and decisions have to be made quickly. This can lead to mistakes and cases with a misdiagnosis. A doctor’s instinct may go directly to the real issue with a male patient, but a female patient may take longer to get the same diagnosis or be told it’s not a heart issue at all.
The impact of a mistaken or delayed diagnosis
For both male and female patients, the impact of a mistake in diagnosis can be dire. Every second is precious. A doctor who just delays the diagnosis may harm the patient, while one who makes the wrong diagnosis could then prescribe inaccurate treatment as the condition worsens. Those who have been harmed or who have lost loved ones because of these kinds of medical mistakes need to know what legal options they have. Speaking with a medical malpractice attorney is wise.