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Women 50% likelier to get heart attack misdiagnosis than men

By Helen William

Published 30/08/2016

Women are 50% more likely than men to be given a wrong diagnosis after a heart attack, according to a new study.

Almost one-third - or 29.9% - of patients had an initial diagnosis that differed from their final one.

The study involving 243 hospitals in England and Wales and carried out by Leeds University researchers is based on the UK national heart attack register and looked at nearly 600,000 heart attack patients over the course of nine years.

Researcher Dr Chris Gale noted that an initial misdiagnosis can have "potentially important clinical repercussions, including an increased risk of death".

Heart attacks can be broken down into two main types, according to the British Heart Foundation (BHF).

A Stemi attack occurs when there is a total blockage of the main artery that pumps blood around the body. The more common Nstemi heart attack involves a partial blockage of arteries.

Women who had a final diagnosis of Stemi had a 59% greater chance of a misdiagnosis compared with men. For Nstemi, it was 41% higher.

The BHF's associate medical director Dr Mike Knapton described the differences in diagnosis as "alarmingly high" but said that better tests were being developed for female heart attack diagnoses.

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