Heart attacks are a common cause of death among adults in the U.S. Millions suffer a heart attack every year, and as many as half a million dies, according to The New England Journal of Medicine. As a result, many people in Nebraska and nationwide are familiar with the symptoms of heart attack and the importance of getting a friend or loved one to the hospital as soon as possible if a heart attack is suspected.
If a heart attack is not diagnosed correctly, serious injury and death can result.
Despite how common heart attacks are, however, as many as one in 50 is not diagnosed correctly, according to The New England Journal of Medicine. Delayed or incorrect diagnosis of heart attack is particularly common in women, who often do not have the same symptoms that are commonly found in men. Nevertheless, both women and men may be incorrectly diagnosed with a less serious condition, when they are actually having a heart attack.
Signs of Heart Attack
The symptoms of a heart attack include any or all of the following:
- Unusual pain, discomfort, tightness, and/or fullness in the chest, shoulders, arms, upper back, neck, or jaw
- Weakness, light-headedness, dizziness, fainting, or unusual fatigue
- Difficulty breathing or shortness of breath
- Numbness, tingling, or a bluish color in lips, hands, or feet
- Nausea or vomiting
- Anxiety, restlessness, or a feeling that something is going horribly wrong
Many cardiovascular conditions may give no warning signs before triggering a heart attack. For instance, people with heart disease or atherosclerosis may have no symptoms at all before a heart attack occurs.
Tests Used for Diagnosing Heart Attacks
When a patient appears at the emergency room with any of the symptoms listed above, the emergency room staff should conduct tests to determine whether or not the patient is having a heart attack. Common tests for heart attack include:
- An electrocardiogram or EKG. An EKG uses wires attached to points on the body to measure how the heart is moving and print the results in a graph format. EKGs are usually painless and can tell doctors whether the heart is beating normally. Certain abnormal beating patterns may indicate a heart attack or other heart condition.
- A blood test may be used to look for enzymes that the cells in the heart release as they die and break down. The amount of these enzymes present in your blood helps doctors estimate how much damage your heart has suffered.
- A nuclear scan gives a detailed view of the heart. It may show places where the blood is not flowing properly through the heart, where the muscle is weakened or dying, or where there are any blockages.
- Coronary angiography or arteriography can reveal where blood flow is being blocked or is higher or lower than it should be.
Protecting Your Rights Throughout Nebraska
Time is of the essence when it comes to diagnosing and treating a heart attack. If a heart attack is not diagnosed correctly, serious injury and death can result. If you or someone you love suffered from the results of a delayed or incorrect heart attack diagnosis in Nebraska, please don't hesitate to contact the experienced Omaha medical malpractice attorneys at Cullan & Cullan LLC. Please call us at (402) 882-7080, so that we can help you find out what happened and make sure the same result does not happen to another member of our community.