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Almost one third given incorrect heart attack diagnosis.

Almost a third of patients in England and Wales are being given the wrong initial diagnosis after a heart attack - with women having a far higher chance of being affected, according to a new study.

NHS data on about 600,000 heart attack cases during a nine-year period was examined by researchers at University of Leeds who also found that Women are 50% more likely than men to have an initial diagnosis that differs from their final one.

The study, published in the European Heart Journal, Acute Cardiovascular Care, looked at the UK national heart attack register and was carried out between April 2004 and March 2013.

The research involved 243 NHS hospitals in England and Wales that cared for patients aged between 18 and 100 years old when they were admitted and found that 198,534 patients were initially misdiagnosed.

The British Heart Foundation (BHF) says that up to 28,000 women die from heart attacks each year in the UK where there are also about 275,000 female heart attack survivors.

The BHF, which part-funded the study, says heart attacks can be classified into two main types - STEMI (ST segment elevation myocardial infarction) and NSTEMI (non-ST segment elevation myocardial infarction).

NSTEMI, the more common type, involves a partial blockage of one or more arteries and can cause serious damage to the heart muscle.

A STEMI, which the NHS calls the "most serious type of heart attack", occurs when there is long interruption to the blood supply caused by a total blockage of the coronary artery, which can cause extensive damage to a large area of the heart.

Women who had a final diagnosis of STEMI had a 59% greater chance of a misdiagnosis compared with men, while women who had a final diagnosis of NSTEMI had a 41% greater chance of a misdiagnosis when compared with men.

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

He said: "This new study highlights the current scale of the issue and confirms more research is urgently needed into tests that will enable earlier and more accurate diagnosis of a heart attack, particularly in women."

 

 

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