A heart attack is a medical emergency requiring immediate care. Being correctly diagnosed as early as possible can significantly reduce the damage done to your heart. A misdiagnosis can have tragic consequences. Although doctors are highly specialized medical professionals, they are not infallible. It is possible for them to misread the symptoms of a heart attack, treating you for something much less significant and sending you on your way. It is therefore very important that you know the warning signs of this condition and can properly communicate them to the emergency room doctor when you believe you are experiencing a heart attack.
Heart Attack Symptoms
There are many symptoms you might experience during a heart attack. The most obvious of these is:
- A sharp pain in your chest radiating to your arms, shoulders, neck or jaw.
- You may be short of breath or experience nausea or vertigo.
- Your face may appear pale and your hands may feel clammy.
- You may even lose consciousness.
- Symptoms can be mild, severe or anywhere in between.
- These signs should not be ignored.
If you think you are having a heart attack, notify someone around you immediately. If you lose consciousness before help arrives, this person can explain your symptoms to medical personnel, allowing proper treatment to occur faster. Never attempt to drive yourself to the hospital. A loss of consciousness while behind the wheel can spell disaster for your own health and safety and that of others on the road.
When you arrive at the hospital, be sure to tell the doctor evaluating you that you believe you are having a heart attack. Do not minimize your symptoms out of fear or in an attempt to be strong. Be prepared to explain exactly what you are experiencing and how long the symptoms have lasted. If it seems the attending doctor is not adequately addressing your symptoms or dismissing them off-hand, you have the right to ask to be evaluated by a different physician. Having a friend or family member at your side during this process can help, as they can attest to your symptoms and advocate for proper treatment. You know your body better than anyone else, and when something feels wrong, you have a right to be heard.
Misdiagnosed Heart Attack
Complications from a misdiagnosed heart attack can lead to many other health complications. Just one untreated heart attack can lead to an increased risk of stroke or future, more severe heart attacks. It is vital that you receive prompt medical attention and the proper diagnosis. A heart attack is your body’s way of letting you know that something is seriously wrong, and allowing that warning to go unheeded can have deadly consequences. Do not leave your diagnosis to chance.
Accurately communicating your symptoms to your doctor, insisting on being evaluated for a heart attack and requesting a second opinion if necessary can drastically reduce your risk of being misdiagnosed. When your life is on the line, every second counts. Being correctly diagnosed and treated after a heart attack is incredibly important.
Additional Frequently Asked Questions
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- Is Failure to Diagnose a Form of Medical Malpractice?
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