Recent research published in The BMJ reveals that women are half as likely to be accurately diagnosed with a heart attack as men. This is the case despite the fact that both women and men report the same number of heart attacks annually in the United States. Dr. Shah, author of the study, points out that each year, “1 in 10 women with chest pains will be diagnosed with a heart attack compared to 1 in 5 men”. So, the question remains, why are women being under-diagnosed?
According to Dr. Shah’s research, the answer may lie in the sensitivity of the diagnostic testing used to alert hospitals to heart attacks. Heart attacks are typically diagnosed with a blood test that measures levels of a protein released by the organ during an attack. Currently, the protein levels’ threshold that physicians use to definitively diagnose heart attacks is the same for both men and women. The study conducted by Dr. Shah and his team tested the idea that women and men do not produce the same levels of the ‘attack protein’, so using gender-specific thresholds may significantly increase accuracy rates for diagnosing heart attacks in females (the underdiagnosed group).
The testing of this hypothesis yielded very promising results. After introducing a new and more sensitive blood test technique that tests for gender-specific ‘attack protein’ levels, Dr. Shah found that women’s diagnosis rates doubled while men’s increased only slightly.
The study’s results highlight the severe problem of under-diagnosis of heart attacks in females more than anything else. Timely diagnosis of heart attack is crucial for maintaining the best odds of survival and future prognosis. In time, this new sensitive testing could prevent many future heart attacks and fatalities each year.
Weiss & Paarz has spent decades getting compensation for victims of heart attack misdiagnosis. If you or a loved one has experienced a lack of or delay in the diagnosis of a heart attack that resulted in permanent damage or a fatality, contact our office for a free consultation today.
To read more details on the research above, visit the study’s page on The BMJ’s website. To read more about heart attack misdiagnosis, visit our informational page or our Heart Attack Misdiagnosis FAQ page on the topic.