Women have a 50% higher chance than men of receiving the wrong initial diagnosis following a heart attack, according to a study by the University of Leeds.
There are two main types of heart attack, although both result in serious damage to the heart muscle:
• STEMI, when there is a total blockage of the main artery that pumps oxygenated blood around the body.
• NSTEMI, which is more common, is a partial blockage of one or more arteries.
This research found that women who had a final diagnosis of STEMI had a 59% greater chance of a misdiagnosis compared with men. Women who had a final diagnosis of NSTEMI had a 41% greater chance of a misdiagnosis when compared with men.
This is not helpful, because receiving a quick diagnosis and getting the correct treatment after a heart attack is important in ensuring the best possible recovery.
Both men and women who were misdiagnosed had about a 70% increased risk of death after 30 days compared with those who had received a consistent diagnosis.
The British Heart Foundation, which part-funded the research, is urging people to be more aware of the signs and symptoms of a heart attack, to avoid mistakes being made in diagnosis.