A heart attack (also described as Myocardial infarction) happens when there is a sudden loss of blood flow to a part of the heart muscle. The more times that passes without treatment to restore blood flow, the greater the damage to the heart.
Every five minutes, someone in the UK has a heart attack. There are currently 1.35 million people in the UK who have survived one.
Heart attacks affect a wide spectrum of the population. Survival rate after a heart attack in the UK is currently 70 per cent and cardiologists now have a much greater understanding of how to care for those survivors. Unfortunately, there are a number of heart attacks that take place that are misdiagnosed or are not diagnosed as soon as they might.
The two main types of heart attack are:
- ST segment elevation myocardial infarction (STEMI) and
- non-ST segment elevation myocardial infarction (NSTEMI).
STEMI occurs when there is a total blockage of a coronary artery. NSTEMI, which is more common, is a partial blockage of one or more coronary arteries. Both result in serious damage to the heart muscle.
Reasons for misdiagnosis or delayed diagnosis of a heart attack
There are many reasons why this may occur including:
- the patient’s poor history or difficult presentation
- inadequate assessment may lead to misdiagnosis such as heartburn or indigestion
- correct investigations were not ordered e.g. ECG
- symptoms are subtle or risk factors for heart disease are not known e.g. family history, drug interactions, smoking, alcohol, etc.
- failure to interpret test results correctly causing failure to follow the protocol for an acute heart attack
- the doctor’s (paramedic’s, nurse’s, clinical practitioner’s) perception of the patient’s symptoms
A delayed heart attack diagnosis causes:
- unnecessary prolonged pain and inconvenience
- delayed treatment which may result in a significant amount of heart muscle being at risk of further damage
- can result in the pumping action of the heart being affected and this can develop into heart failure
- permanent muscle damage as damage cannot be reversed
- poorer prognosis than would have been with prompt diagnosis and treatment
- lengthy recovery period which may even be permanent
- financial loss if well being is affected so working hours are reduced, nursing care is required, special equipment is needed to carry out daily activities etc.
- premature death
If you or a loved one has suffered a heart attack and you believe that the warning signs were present but missed and this lead to a misdiagnosis or delayed diagnosis which lead to the missed opportunity of preventing the heart attack or timeous treatment, there may be a claim for compensation for subsequent injuries.
If you would like to discuss making a claim for compensation as a result of misdiagnosis or delayed diagnosis of a heart attack or a failure to provide the recommended standard of care please call our Clinical and Medical Negligence lawyers on Freephone 0808 164 0808 for a FREE, no-obligation chat, or complete the request a call back form and we will call you.