The American Heart Association has declared February 1 as “National Wear Red Day” to kick off its campaign encouraging awareness of the danger of heart disease in women. Heart attack remains the No. 1 killer in America while stroke ranks No. 3. Although many women mistakenly believe that the greatest threat to their health is cancer, in fact, coronary heart disease, which causes heart attacks, is the leading cause of death for American women. Heart disease, stroke and other cardiovascular diseases kills twice as many women than all forms of cancer (including breast cancer) combined.

Despite the fact that cardiovascular disease (CVD) is the number-one killer of women in the U.S., during a 2004 survey by the American Heart Association (AHA), only 21 percent of women responded that they view heart disease as the leading cause of death. The actual numbers are staggering-CVD kills the equivalent of one woman per minute. Women now are actually more likely to die from a stroke than men. In 2004, more than 91,000 females died from stroke, representing 61 percent of the total deaths attributed to stroke. (American Heart Association, 2004 survey.)

What can women do to prevent becoming a statistic? They can start by knowing the signs and symptoms of a heart attack or a stroke.

Signs of a Stroke

  • Sudden numbness or weakness of the face, arm or leg, especially on one side of the body.
  • Sudden confusion, trouble speaking or understanding.
  • Sudden trouble seeing in one or both eyes.
  • Sudden trouble walking, dizziness, loss of balance or coordination.
  • Sudden severe headache with no known cause.
  • Signs of a Heart Attack
  • Uncomfortable pressure, squeezing, fullness or pain the center of your chest, which can last more than a few minutes or goes away and comes back.
  • Pain or discomfort in one or both arms, the back, neck, jaw or stomach.
  • Shortness of breath with or without chest discomfort.
  • Other signs, such as breaking out in a cold sweat, nausea or lightheadedness.

Although a heart attack or stroke occurs in different areas of the body, both attacks usually involve clogged arteries and blood clots. Time is of the essence when dealing with a heart attack or a stroke and every second counts when suffering from a heart attack or stroke. If you experience any of the listed symptoms, call 9-1-1 immediately. In many cases, a heart attack is easy to diagnose, which can be confirmed by appropriate tests. In a significant number of individuals, however, the symptoms are atypical. Women, especially, often complain of anxiety and nausea as opposed to the more common radiating pain, sweating and breathlessness.

Stroke victims, too, can have symptoms out of the ordinary, such as disorientation and emotional upset. In both of these life-threatening situations, accurate diagnosis followed by immediate appropriate and aggressive treatment, can mean the difference between life and death.

The failure by a physician or hospital to diagnose a heart attack or stroke can be cause for a medical malpractice lawsuit. If your or someone you love has been the victim of a misdiagnosed heart attack or stroke, you need the help of knowledgeable and dedicated attorneys. Rosen Louik & Perry in Pittsburgh, PA is qualified in both the law and medicine. Our on staff doctors will examine your medical records to see if something more could have been done. The Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania area medical malpractice attorneys of Rosen Louik & Perry offer free, no-obligation initial consultations, and there is no fee unless recovery is made. Contact us today for your free consultation.