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Misdiagnosis of Women's Heart isease


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After suffering 2 episodes of sudden onset of pain between my shoulder blades accompanied with a numbness in my right arm and jaw pain. I saw my family doctor who performed an EKG and ordered a nuclear stress test. He also told me that acid reflux could not be ruled out with symptoms I was having. The stress test was scheduled for two weeks later. However, I had another episode 4 days later and saw another physician the next day. (My physician was off that day.) This doctor also did an EKG and told me that both were abnormal and admitted me to a hospital where they performed the nuclear stress test the following day. The cardiologist who was present for the stress test told me that I passed with flying colors and that I had the heart of a 25 year old. I was given a prescription for Nexium and released. Three episodes and 3 weeks later (December 10, 2005), I had a heart attack at the airport (returning from a buisness trip). My husband and I almost did not call 911 because we believed that it was acid reflux causing the pain. I had 75% blockage in my LAD and underwent cath, angioplasty, and stent insertion. I have been a medical technologist for over 30 years and always trusted diagnostic procedures and physicians. Now, looking back, I can't believe how naive I was. I should have been more atuned to listening to what my body was telling me. Now, I've been told that the nuclear stress test is only 80% reliable. If there are others out there with similar symptoms - especially those that keep recurring - please keep seeking answers. I'd like to hear from others who were also misadiagnosed.

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You knew that something was wrong so I believe that you are in tune to what your body is saying. This is the problem a lot of us and especially women have had with cardiologist and PCPs.

 

Five months after my bypass surgery I started getting dull aches in my neck and jaw on the left side. After a day of "toughing it out" it got worse and radiated into my lower left arm. I went to the ER and was put in the chest pain section and given an EKG which with me has always come back normal. The doctor on duty that saw me diagnosed me as having a pinched nerve in my neck and sent me home. Back again two days later and with a lot of ranting and raving from my wife my cardiologist scheduled another cath for the next day which discovered that my largest bypass graph had collapsed and was 90% blocked from that. A stent took care of that being done the following day because of two V-fib episodes during the cath.

 

I think you will hear from some others here at the board. I haven't noticed you posting before so this is also my welcome to you here at the Heartboard. Your experience carries a lot of value with it not only for your own health and well being but you are able to help others who might have questions and are delaying treatment that is needed.

 

Gilbert

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Thank you for sharing your experience with us, shannnonsbrown. I can relate to what you have said. I am not in the medical profession, but I pretty much had this complete faith in tests and all medical professionals. I don't anymore and that's kind of scary, too. I'm glad you listened to your body and did call 911 so you can be here! Kathy

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Welcome, and hello Shannnonbrowns! I can’t say that I was misdiagnosed with acid reflux but I had a strong sense that two of my doctors wished it were and investigated that possibility. My original symptoms were not as dramatic as yours, Shannon: occasional very hard-to-describe chest pain. One told me something to the effect that he couldn’t refer too many people to cardiology (who do not have a heart problem.) Another’s classic response was, "women like you do not have heart disease!" The second one prescripted a medication for inflammation thinking the problem was in the cartilage between the ribs. Five years later I developed rapidly progressing unstable angina from a 90% LAD blockage which was stented.

 

My pet peeve about diagnosis it that all of my doctors except the last one, the cardiologist who ordered an angiogram, asked about family history of HEART ATTACK instead of heart disease. When he heard about my brother’s early diagnosis of Congestive Heart Failure it was like, "bingo" first line relative, let’s run the tests.

 

Jeanne

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Welcome Shannon Brown--I must say no one thought it was my heart either--I was just sob after getting out of the swimming pool it persisted so I called my pcp who thought perhaps I had inhaled some cholrine becaue I always put the chmicals in the pool gave me an inhaler and off I went, the next day my chest felt like it was on fire and I was sob again was sent to ER to see if I had a pulmonary embolism-- they also asked about my reflux--already was dealing with GERD for years--- that test was negative--while I waiting to see the cardiologist because it took so long to to get in my pcp had arranged forme to see the pulmonologist and do PFT's thinking perhaps I was (at this late time in my life) starting with asthma-NOT--those tests were negative too-- I was begining to have some did a stress test at the hospital was sob with some minor jaw pain but passed test with flying colors--was on the treamill and then passed a nuclear stress test too all EKG's NORMAL-too--This sob had started at the end of July and now it is the end of August finally see the cardio who tells me I really don't think it is your heart as it would be unforgiving and you would already have had an MI--so I refuse a cath (after all it isn't my heart) and agree to another stress test to be done in a week-

before that I become more sob and my pcp sends me to ER my docs were not on call and was told I could stay and be admitted or go home (afterall continuity of care is important and these weren't my docs) my daughters talked me into staying-- the cardio that was on call for mine scheduled a cath for eary am on Monday (spent the week end in the hospital) he told me we are only doing the cath to prove to you there is NOTHING WRONG with your heart! EVERYTHING STILL REMAINED NORMAL THROUGHOUT THIS ORDEAL --Monday came my cardio did the cath and found a 95% blockage in my RCA was stented (on my birthday in 2002) and it was like and immediate fix felt good as new-- my problem is this continues and continues I now have had 11 caths and 8 angioplasties and have 7 stents- My angels have been looking out for me! :heart-pip:

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yes a lot of us are misdiagnosed please get the book Women Are not Small Men by Dr. Neica Goldberg Md. yes the men do not want to admit it is happening to us and they were not trained to look for different symptoms too especially in women. I was misdiagnosed along with others and it is bad getting that way. I hope you fired those Dr's and got new ones. and you are ok. Glad you are here and can post about your experience and what happened too. well good luck and keep a posting too.

Heidi

I was misdiagnoised too but I am also a lucky one to be here too.

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Hi and Welcome to HeartBoard, Shannon!! :P

 

The funny thing with my MI is that I didn't think that's what it was myself. I knew something was wrong with me. SOB and chest tightening, but thought it was my asthma and didn't seek help-just used my inhalors and kept going. Then it got worse. However, the worst had already happened to me by the time I was in the ER-they just diagnosed it. So that's why helping to make women more aware of their symptoms is so important!!

 

I'm so sorry that you were diagnosed late and then endured the MI. Perhaps if it was caught earlier, that would have been prevented. :heart-pip:

 

Hugs, Teri :P

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Hi Shannonbrown and welcome!!! :grouphug2:

Sorry about your misdiagnosis and that you had to have an MI before being properly diagnosed with heart disease. I too was misdiagnosed, had numerous non invasive tests, echocardiogram, ekgs, thalium stress test, chest CT, MRA. Everything was normal, a hospital visit diagnosed me with possible GERD. I saw my PCP and Cardio after hospital visit, my EKG was abnormal, finally had an a heart cath 2 wks. later that showed 75% and 80% blockage of my RCA that was angioplasted and stented with 2 medicated stents. I'm grateful that I didn't have an MI, I was lucky. I had so many different symptoms, intermittent chest pain, pain in my jaw that went down my left arm, upset stomach, sob which I thought was attributed to my asthma. I still have chest pain on and off at times, hospitalized had a 2nd heart cath that was normal, had a nuclear stress test that came back normal. Go figure. I can't. Still don't know what the heck is going on sometimes. I'm trying to live life the best way I can. I'm no angel, but I stopped smoking almost 9 months ago, I cheated during the holidays (food I mean not cigarettes) and still do from time to time. Heart disease sucks but at least we are all still here to vent and voice our opinions. Amen to that. Thanks for letting me vent. God Bless, take care and be well!!!!

xoxomm1207

:heart-pip: Mary

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Great Job Gang :common076[1]:

:signs046[1]:again Shannon, there is also a great post/article that AngioRN put up on this same subject a couple of days ago. It is literally title the same thing, if you cannot find, just send a message to him or one of the other moderators and they will be glad to help you :signs007[1]:

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My story is amazingly similiar except I was fortunate enough not to have had the heart attack. I was 41 at the time and I'm female. I was back and forth to the ER and my family doctor with chest pain that extended to the left arm, pain in between the shoulder blades, and shortness of breath. This went on for 6 weeks. I think they finally got tired of seeing me in the ER and finally ordered an angiogram. I was found to have 75% blockage of the LAD also. Very close to the top of the branch. I underwent angioplasty and stenting the next morning. I too was dianosed with acid reflux and throw in some anxiety also. The EKG and stress test with nuclear scan have never indicated blockage in my case. The stent I received was not medicated so I began having problems after just a few weeks similiar to what I had before the stent. Even knowing my history they still were looking at acid reflux and anxiety as the cause of the return of symptoms. What was happening was the artery was narrowing back down due to scarring around the stented area. I ended up having to have emergency heart bypass surgery. The thing is my blockage had gotten to 97% and yet they allowed me to walk to the cath lab. Of course they were going by their previous tests that were never helpful before and were assuming that there was nothing wrong. I still believe today that if I went in with symptoms like before and my tests didn't indicate any problems I would not be treated with the same concern as a man might be. Like you I also began to ignore some of my own symptoms because they had told me a several visits that they could find nothing wrong with my heart. You begin to question whether you might be losing your mind and maybe it is all in your head.

Anyway I wish you good luck from this point forward. It's somewhat reassuring to me not being in the medical field that even those in the medical field end up surprised that diagnostic tests were not so reliable.

 

After suffering 2 episodes of sudden onset of pain between my shoulder blades accompanied with a numbness in my right arm and jaw pain.  I saw my family doctor who performed an EKG and ordered a nuclear stress test.  He also told me that acid reflux could not be ruled out with symptoms I was having.  The stress test was scheduled for two weeks later.  However, I had another episode 4 days later and saw another physician the next day.  (My physician was off that day.)  This doctor also did an EKG and told me that both were abnormal and admitted me to a hospital where they performed the nuclear stress test the following day.  The cardiologist who was present for the stress test told me that I passed with flying colors and that I had the heart of a 25 year old.  I was given a prescription for Nexium and released.  Three episodes and 3 weeks later (December 10, 2005), I had a heart attack at the airport (returning from a buisness trip).  My husband and I almost did not call 911 because we believed that it was acid reflux causing the pain.  I had 75% blockage in my LAD and underwent cath, angioplasty, and stent insertion.  I have been a medical technologist for over 30 years and always trusted diagnostic procedures and physicians.  Now, looking back, I can't believe how naive I was.  I should have been more atuned to listening to what my body was telling me.  Now, I've been told that the nuclear stress test is only 80% reliable.  If there are others out there with similar symptoms - especially those that keep recurring - please keep seeking answers.  I'd like to hear from others who were also misadiagnosed.

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I MUST ADMIT I am thankful FOR my newest cardio as he seems to listen to me and not my tests although now I have been wrong twice and I can't figure it out why I was wrong--so my creditability might be a bit tarnished now--his partners don't believe me though as they sent me home with a a 80% blockage, they told me it was impossible for me to have another blockage in 6 to 8 weeks-RIGHT! What do they know anyways??? ( my cardio was out of town, and I told them they were sending me home not fixed) but they sent me home anyways after a negative stress test less than two weeks later I was in the cath lab getting two more stents! Thank you very much! My pcp always tells me that my heart ALWAYS waits for me to get it fixed, he says he doesn't know whay but it does--hopefully it willcontinue to be patient! LOL!!

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And for that you are so very lucky, and so are we, Star!! Let's hope that more Dr.'s will listen to patients like you, that know your body!!

 

Love, Teri :P

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Shannonsbrown, welcome to our family. I am sorry and frightened to hear about your misdiagnosis and your subsequent heart attack. I don't have CAD that I know of, but my medical facility is very good in guessing heart FIRST for it's women who present with vague symptoms. Of course I have had heart surgeries due to other reasons so that may be why they tend to take any symptom I'm having seriously or as possibly heart related.

God bless you and keep you well,

Denise

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