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Heart Disease Symptoms Differ by Gender

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Though historically characterized as a male health condition, heart disease is the leading cause of death among American men and women. Misdiagnosis contributes to the high rate of mortality, especially for female patients. This is why it is vitally important for men and women to know and understand the various symptoms of heart disease. The medical malpractice lawyers of Schochor, Federico and Staton, P.A. seek to assist the residents of Maryland and Washington DC in advocating for proper diagnosis and timely treatment.

What is Heart Disease?

Heart disease serves as an overarching term that encompasses numerous types of heart-related conditions. Heart failure, arrhythmias, angina and heart defects all fall under the classification of heart disease. As reported by Healthline.com, some risk factors for heart disease include:

  • Smoking
  • A diet high in saturated fat
  • Excessive consumption of alcohol
  • High cholesterol levels
  • Diabetes
  • High blood pressure (hypertension)

Traditionally, heart disease was classified as a primarily male condition, with initial symptoms often appearing as a heart attack or stroke. In men, the signs of heart disease commonly center around chest pain and a shortness of breath. Men may also complain of arm and neck pain, along with dizziness. Though heart disease is more often considered when men present to a physician with these symptoms, misdiagnosis is still possible and happens far too often.

Symptoms in Women

Heart disease symptoms among women are less likely to be related to the chest area. As defined by the Mayo Clinic, some of the most common female symptoms include:

  • Abdominal pain and discomfort
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Profuse sweating
  • Dizziness or fainting
  • Pain in one or both arms

When women do complain of chest pain, it is often described as a pressure or tightness, unlike the sudden and crushing pain associated with a male heart attack. Unfortunately, the “atypical” nature of female heart disease symptoms often leads to missed or delayed diagnosis of the condition. Misdiagnosis occurs more frequently among female patients than male patients, contributing to its classification as the number one cause of death among women in the United States.  Each year, thousands of women are sent home with inaccurate diagnoses, like anxiety or abdominal disorders, after presenting to physicians and hospitals with heart disease symptoms. When this occurs, the condition is left untreated to cause irreparable damage to the heart that often proves fatal.

If your family was impacted by a missed or delayed diagnosis of heart disease, contact Schochor, Federico and Staton, P.A. at 410-234-1000 for a consult

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