What do doctors mistake a heart attack for?

by | Dec 9, 2020 | Medical malpractice

You go to the doctor or the hospital because you think you’re having a heart attack. The doctor makes a diagnosis, but they mistake your heart attack for something else. This delays treatment, increases the odds of death and puts you at serious risk.

Even if things eventually get sorted out, you could still see some major ramifications due to that doctor’s mistake. How could this happen? A good place to begin is by considering what doctors often mistake heart attacks for when making that diagnosis.

Minor pain

When having a heart attack, it often comes with acute chest pain. If you don’t tell the doctor that the pain is bad enough, they may think it’s something minor, like a pulled muscle. Trying to put pain on a ranked scale is problematic, though, because people with a high pain tolerance may not rate it as high as others.

An anxiety attack

It’s natural to feel anxious when you think you’re having a heart attack, of course, but one potential issue is if your doctor just thinks you’re having an anxiety attack and you need to calm down. The two issues can have some of the same symptoms, such as trouble breathing or a tightness in your chest.


Believe it or not, a doctor could even think your major heart attack is something as minor as indigestion. They may tell you to take some antacids and relax for the evening when what you really need is prompt medical care at the hospital. They could send you home to have that heart attack alone, thinking they’ve done the right thing, and not finding out until later that it was never indigestion at all.

Your options

Any delay in treatment is a problem. Medical mistakes must be taken seriously. If an error has impacted your life, you may need to look into all of the legal options at your disposal.