It is tragic, but nearly two-thirds of women who die each year from a sudden cardiac event had no previous symptoms which would have prompted a cardiac investigation.

In a 2017 article titled, “Taking the Risks to Heart: Misdiagnosis of Heart Disease,[1]” the American College of Cardiology writes that in 70% of claims of medical malpractice involving a heart-related missed diagnosis, the patient “died when her heart condition was not correctly diagnosed,” and another 28% had “heart muscle damage frommyocardial infarction.”

Routine Health Checkups Prevent Missed Diagnoses

This is why routine health checkups and clearly articulated physician protocols are so important.  These measures support prompt recognition and treatment of warning signs and symptoms of chronic heart disease and acute heart attacks.

For women, the signs and symptoms of a heart attack are different than those for men. In addition, women of color face higher risk of heart disease and more critical outcomes when their heart disease is undiagnosed and left untreated.  Factors affecting missed or misdiagnosis were:

  • Patient is 40+ years old;
  • Presents with atypical pain; and/or
  • Had a comorbid condition which diverted attention from heart disease.

Even Cardiologists Fail to Diagnose Heart Disease

In 28% of the cases identified in a 2017 study of closed medical malpractice claims, the primary care physician, or PCP, was the provider who failed to diagnose heart disease in a patient. Surprisingly, in an equal percentage, cardiologists were responsible for missing the signs of heart disease. Only 13% of the cases involved emergency room physicians failing to recognize the symptoms of heart disease in the emergency department.

Evaluation of Missed Diagnosis Cases

If you are in the unenviable position of having heart disease diagnosed late, or misdiagnosed or missed entirely, you may have a valid medical malpractice claim. An experienced lawyer who has handled these types of cases for decades, like that at Wallace Wason, PLLC, can help you to evaluate the factors that affect successful malpractice claims to determine the best way forward for you.

Contact us today for your no-obligation case evaluation at (703) 638-7717.


Taking the Risks to Heart: Misdiagnosis of Heart Disease. American College of Cardiology. Accessed February 2, 2023.
2 Internal medicine closed claims study. The Doctors Company. Accessed February 2, 2023.

Image Credit:

  • heart-attack-7479253_1280: Tumisu