| acute pain management

Why a Heart Attack Diagnosis May Be Missed

The Gender Gap Misdiagnosis

Women wait longer before seeking medical help for chest pain, and chest pain in women is more frequently misdiagnosed than men. A study reported at the 2021 Acute CardioVascular scientific congress of the European Society of Cardiology showed that of over 41,000 patients with chest pain, 41% of women waited 12 hours or more to go to the hospital, vs 37% of men. In 93% of patients for whom an ECG was inconclusive, probable acute coronary syndrome was noted by physicians in 39% of women vs 44.5% of men, regardless of the number of risk factors.

Dr. Gemma Martinez-Nadal of the Hospital Clinic of Barcelona, Spain, commented, "Our findings suggest a gender gap in the first evaluation of chest pain, with the likelihood of heart attack being underestimated in women. The low suspicion of heart attack occurs in both women themselves and in physicians, leading to higher risks of late diagnosis and misdiagnosis." She concluded that "Heart attack has traditionally been considered a male disease, and has been understudied, underdiagnosed, and undertreated in women, who may attribute symptoms to stress or anxiety. Both women and men with chest pain should seek medical help urgently.”


Read the ESC press release.