Diagnosing Heart Disease and Heart Attacks
The team at Younker Hyde Macfarlane has significant experience with cases involving heart disease. According to the American Heart Association, heart disease is the leading cause of death in the United States, killing over 370,000 people a year. Heart disease strikes someone in the U.S. about once every 42 seconds. Heart disease takes more lives than all forms of cancer combined.
There are many different forms of heart disease. The term ‘heart disease’ is often used interchangeable with the term ‘cardiovascular disease.’ Cardiovascular disease generally refers to conditions that involved narrowed or blocked blood vessels that can lead to a heart attack, chest pain, or stroke. Heart disease describes a range of conditions that affect your heart, including coronary artery disease, arrhythmias, and congenital heart defects.
Arrhythmia is an irregular or abnormal heartbeat – uneven, very slow, or very fast. Bradycardia is when the heart rate is too slow, or less than 60 beats per minutes. Tachycardia is when the heart rate is too fast, or more than 100 beats per minutes.
Coronary Artery Disease is the hardening of the arteries that give the heart vital oxygen and nutrients. It can also be known as ischemic heart disease – it is caused by atherosclerosis, which is the narrowing or blockage or the blood vessels that supply the heart.
Congenital Heart Disease is a defect in one of more structures of the heart or blood vessels. This happens before birth. About eight out of every 1,000 children get it. It may result from genes inherited from parents or from adverse exposure to certain elements while still in the womb. Specific examples of congenital heart disease include holes in the heart, abnormal valves, and abnormal heart chambers.
Signs and Symptoms of Heart Disease
Signs and symptoms of heart disease vary based upon the type of heart disease you are suffering from. Symptoms can include:
· Chest discomfort, including pain, tightness, or pressure
· Shortness of breath
· Fainting, Dizziness, or Lightheadedness
· Nausea, Indigestion, Heartburn or Stomach Pain
· Pain that Spreads to the Arm (left side of the body)
· Throat or Jaw pain
· Swelling in legs, feet, ankles
· Irregular heart beat
Causes and Risk Factors of Heart Disease
Some forms of heart disease are caused by correctable problems, such as an unhealthy diet, lack of exercise, being overweight, poor hygiene and smoking. A diet that is high in fat, salt, sugar, and cholesterol can contribute to the development of heart disease. Other factors include the following:
· Sex (men are at a greater risk of developing heart disease)
· High blood pressure
· High blood cholesterol levels
· Stress (unrelieved stress may damage your arteries)
· Family history
Diagnosing and Treating Heart Disease
When a doctor is presented with a patient who is suffering from symptoms of heart disease, a stress test should be performed. Often times a doctor will mistakenly determine the patient is suffering from gastrointestinal issues, and will not perform a stress test. The failure to perform a stress test allows the patient’s heart disease to go undiagnosed. A stress test can determine if you have heart disease. A doctor or trained technician performs the test. The doctor will learn how much your heart can manage before an abnormal rhythm starts or blood flow to your heart muscle decreases.
An electrocardiogram (ECG) is a type of a stress test. An ECG records electrical signals and can help your doctor detect irregularities in your heart’s rhythm and structure. An ECG can be taken while you exercise. Before you begin exercising, your heart rate and blood pressure will be taken. Then you exercise until you feel exhausted. You are monitored as you exercise. An ECG measures the rate and regularity of heartbeats, the size and position of the heart chambers, the presence of any damage to the heart, and the effects of drugs or devices used to regulate the heart.
If a doctor fails to identify and diagnosis heart disease, the patient is at risk for further complications. If heart disease is not treated, it can cause severe angina, heart failure with shortness of breath on even mild activities.
How an Attorney Can Help You
Given the severity of injuries caused by heart disease and potential long-term effects, it is important to contact an attorney quickly if you or a loved one has suffered from undiagnosed heart disease or heart attack. The attorneys at Younker Hyde Macfarlane will assist you in evaluating and prosecuting all valid claims you may have.
Contact the Medical Malpractice Team at Younker Hyde Macfarlane
For more information about your legal options related to heart disease that went undiagnosed due to a doctor’s failure to perform a stress test, please contact our team of medical malpractice attorneys today. The legal team at Younker Hyde Macfarlane will fight diligently for you and your legal needs.