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Leading cause of death in women is often misdiagnosed

According to a report by the Society for Women's Health Research, women in North Carolina and around the country who experience heart problems are often misdiagnosed with other illnesses. The 2011 report concluded that a gender bias exists in the diagnosis of cardiovascular disease and that women are less likely than men to undergo the appropriate diagnostic tests. The failure to diagnose women with CVD could ultimately result in some patients not receiving much needed treatments.

One patient who was suffering from congestive heart failure and a blood clot was initially told that she was just nervous. When the woman continued to experience breathing difficulties that were joined by a cough, a doctor told her she had a virus. Five weeks later, an X-ray showing fluid on the woman's lungs finally resulted in her receiving an echocardiogram. With the correct diagnoses, the woman was able to improve her condition with diet changes and medication.

A cardiologist at Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center in Winston-Salem says that coronary disease is increasing among younger women. Although CVD is now listed as the leading cause of death in women, the lack of appropriate diagnostic testing for the disease continues. Because male and female hearts have been shown to function differently, some people believe that more research needs to be done to learn how to identify symptoms of CVD in women.

For some women, a doctor's failure to correctly diagnose their heart problem could result in serious complications. When delayed treatment causes an injury, the patient or their family members may choose to seek monetary compensation by filing a medical malpractice lawsuit with the help of an attorney.

Source: High Point Enterprise, "Women's heart problems often misdiagnosed", February 14, 2014

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