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Why physicians misdiagnose heart disease in women

On Behalf of | Oct 29, 2021 | Medical Malpractice |

For decades, physicians have been several steps behind the pace when it comes to understanding the diseases and ailments of the female heart. While they know that heart disease remains the No. 1 killer of women, it has only been in the past few years that medical professionals have started to comprehend the best ways to diagnose ailments in the female heart.

Why have physicians taken so long in getting on the right path? Well, for several decades, the research and studies on the human heart focused on men and the health issues that they faced. The studies excluded women. That is the reason doctors often misdiagnosed the heart health of women.  In the past, a severe heart ailment in a woman would sometimes be written off as a panic attack, gallstone attack, stomach ailment, or asthma.

Key heart studies focused only on men

During the 1960s and 1970s, scientists and medical professionals conducted a number of research studies on heart disease. The problem was that middle-aged men served as primary subjects. That direction continued in the decades to follow.

For example, a research trial from 1982 confirmed the ties between cholesterol and heart disease. However, the nearly 12,900 study participants were all men. More than a decade later in 1995, a new study revealed that aspirin minimized the chances for a heart attack. Once again, the more than 22,000 people studied were exclusively men.

The same held true at medical education institutes, where heart disease studies were “a man’s world.” With the lack of female subjects in medical textbooks and research papers, doctors and students studying to be doctors had little to go on in recognizing and treating heart disease among women.

Heart attack symptoms differ among men and women

The medical world eventually began studies on women in the early 1990s.

An important study from 2015 revealed that the symptoms of heart disease greatly differed in women compared to men. For example, men typically had severe chest pain in heart attack situations. However, women experienced jaw pain, back pain, severe indigestion, and flu-like symptoms. Women also noted that medical professionals did not take them seriously when talking about their ailments.

It is about time that the medical world woke up in matters pertaining to this topic. Regardless of gender, all patients must be properly and respectfully treated. Stand up for yourself if you suspect you have a heart ailment. If you are not satisfied with the treatment, seek a second opinion. Remember that heart disease is the leading cause of death among U.S. women.