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Sex bias delays treatment of women's heart attacks and strokes

Symptoms of heart attacks and strokes often differ for men and women in Colorado. Because the bulk of medical research has traditionally focused on men, health care workers routinely fail to recognize heart attacks and strokes in women compared to men. They sometimes take more time to diagnose these conditions in women, which delays treatment and deprives some female patients the chance for a full recovery.

According to a study from 2014, emergency room workers misdiagnosed women presenting with stroke symptoms more often than men with strokes. Failures to recognize female stroke symptoms, like nausea, seizures and breathing difficulty, could account for the fact that men presenting with ischemic strokes receive a clot-breaking drug more often than women.

Younger people who experience heart attacks also face difficulty obtaining a correct diagnosis because people will think that they are too young for heart problems. The American Heart Association found that among patients age 18 to 55, health care workers dismissed the possibility of heart attacks in 53% of female cases. In the same age group, only 37% of younger men had trouble getting an accurate diagnosis. Sex differences in heart attack detection appear to arise because clinicians expect patients to have chest pain, but that is the most common symptom among men. Women tend to experience heart attack symptoms other than chest pain.

Health care providers have a duty to meet certain standards when attempting to diagnose people. A person who experiences medical harm because a clinician did not explore all reasonable causes for the symptoms might pursue damages that resulted from malpractice. Legal representation might strengthen someone's position when making a claim because an attorney might gather independent medical testimony and have the resources to litigate the case if necessary.

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