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Heart Attacks Missed Because Doctors Blame Symptoms on Stress

The New York Times reports on two new studies which concludes that signs of heart disease are more likely to be blamed on stress when the patient is a woman. The presence of stress changed the way doctors interpreted a woman’s symptoms, prompting them to suggest psychological factors rather than physical causes. But the presence of stress didn’t change the way men were assessed.

When stress was listed as a symptom, only 15 of the doctors diagnosed heart disease in women, compared to 56 percent for men. Only 30 percent of the doctors referred the women to a cardiologist, compared to 62 percent for men, and 13 percent suggested medication for women, compared to 47 percent for men.

This shows why there is often a delay in the diagnosis and treatment of women with heart disease.  Without diagnosis and treatment, women often have life changing or life ending heart attacks.  When a doctor explains chest pain or shortness of breath or irregular hearbeat as caused by stress, your doctor could be making a huge mistake.  Please make sure that all such symptoms are evaluated medically with the proper tests, and do not let them be explained away as "stress".  Medical malpractice is unacceptable.  The failure to diagnose and treat heart disease, clogged coronary arteries, and heart attack is a real and present danger.  This is caused by a missed diagnose or misdiagnosis.