Rapid Diagnosis Of Heart Attack Is Critical To Effective Treatment

Coronary heart disease or CHD is the leading cause of death for both men and women in the United States. CHD is caused by a narrowing of the coronary arteries that supply blood to the heart, and often results in a heart attack. Each year, about 1.1 million Americans suffer a heart attack.

Diagnosis and Treatment Can Mean The Difference Between Life And Death

Treatments for a heart attack work to open the blocked artery to restore blood flow as fast as possible to prevent or limit damage to the heart muscle, and to lessen the chance of a repeat attack. The main treatments are thrombolytic (“clot-busting”) therapy, other medications, and special procedures, such as angioplasty and coronary artery bypass surgery.

Heart Attacks often develop over time. They may start with blocked arteries or disease and advance quietly for years before triggering an event that sends the person to the doctor, urgent care facility or emergency room. The difficulty with heart attacks is that they often appear at first glance to be another condition. A person who has frequent bouts of heartburn and indigestion may think that a heart attack is just another case of indigestion. The average person can be forgiven for doing that – a doctor cannot!

Symptoms Of A Heart Attack

When a patient complains of one or more of the following symptoms, doctors recognize these as warning signs of a heart attack.

  • chest discomfort or pain
  • radiating pain
  • sweating
  • fatigue
  • nausea
  • vomiting
  • back pain
  • indigestion
  • shortness of breath
  • burning pain
  • cough
  • chest congestion
  • stomach pain
  • neck pain
  • jaw pain
  • arm pain (in one or both arms)
  • lightheadedness
  • dizziness

Risk Factors for Heart Attack and Coronary Heart Disease

Doctors also know that certain risk factors increase the likelihood that a patient will develop coronary heart disease and have a heart attack.

Those risk factors include:

  • family history of premature coronary artery disease
  • male
  • over age 45
  • overweight
  • high cholesterol
  • high blood pressure
  • diabetes
  • smoking

When doctors see patients with symptoms and risk factors like these described above the standard of care requires a doctor to perform tests to diagnose the heart attack, or rule out its existence. Appropriate tests include things such as cardiac enzymes, electrocardiogram, EEGs, EKGs, blood tests, nuclear scan, coronary angiography or arteriography, MRIs, MRAs and CT scans.

Prompt treatment for heart attack is essential given the availability of drugs and surgical procedures which minimize the potential for irreversible injury. A physician who fails to act to stop the progression of a heart attack puts you at risk for brain damage, paralysis or long term disability, even death.

Heart Attacks Are The Single Leading Malpractice Litigation-Related Condition

Because heart attacks are mostly suffered by men over 45, they are often underdiagnosed in women or younger adults in any age groups, common misdiagnoses of heart attacks include, but are not limited to gastrointestinal disorders, musculoskeletal pain, or respiratory ailments such as pneumonia or bronchitis.

If you or a family member have suffered injury or harm due to a missed diagnosis of a heart attack, you should have a medical malpractice lawyer who is qualified in both the law and medicine, examine your medical records to see if something more should have been done. Veronica Richards is both a Pennsylvania Super Lawyer and a Nurse Practitioner. She understands both the law and medicine.

Get Legal Help After A Missed Heart Attack Diagnosis

The Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania area medical malpractice attorneys of Richards & Richards, offer free, no-obligation initial consultations in a range of negligence, including those involving medical malpractice, wrongful death and related wrong diagnosis and delayed diagnosis issues. Please contact a Pennsylvania Malpractice Lawyer via email or call 412-261-2620 to have your medical malpractice case involving a heart attack evaluated by an attorney with a background in medicine. Our Medical Malpractice Lawyers will consult with qualified medical professionals and they know what questions to ask to get answers.

If you cannot make it to our Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania offices, a Pennsylvania Medical Malpractice Attorney can meet with you at your home and even at the hospital. There is no fee unless a financial recovery is made.