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Can a Heart Attack Misdiagnosis Lead to Brain Injury?


Misdiagnosis of a heart attack can have serious, long-term consequences, especially for your circulatory, pulmonary, respiratory, and related systems. However, there’s another implication that you may not expect: Mistakes in diagnosing a heart attack can also affect the brain, potentially causing serious brain injuries. An acute myocardial infarction (AMI) prevents the flow of oxygen-rich blood to the brain, so prompt, effective treatment is critical – and it can only be provided through a proper, timely diagnosis of heart attack. 

If you or a loved one suffered brain injuries because of a misdiagnosed AMI, a Florida heart attack malpractice attorney can assist with your legal remedies. Some background information about diagnosis mistakes may also be helpful.

How Misdiagnosis Can Increase the Risk of Brain Injury: As mentioned, an AMI affects the blood flow to the brain, where oxygen is essential for normal functioning. When the reduction in oxygen is significant or long in duration, the more severe the damage to the brain. If a doctor misdiagnoses heart attack, health care providers can’t get started on treatment to regenerate blood flow and replenish oxygen. As such, a diagnosis error increases the potential for permanent, widespread brain injuries. Complications include:

  • Short-term memory loss;
  • Issues with motor skills;
  • Difficulties with speaking and communication;
  • Challenges with processing visual information and stimuli; and
  • Many others.

In addition, a misdiagnosed AMI can lead to cardiac arrest, which is when the heart suddenly stops beating entirely. According to the American Heart Association, the majority of individuals who survive cardiac arrest will sustain some degree of brain injury and cognitive disorder. Some who suffer cardiac arrest may remain in a permanent vegetative state.

Proper Diagnosis Can Prevent Long-Term Brain Damage: When a patient presents with symptoms of heart attack, physicians should perform a series of exams, tests, and lab screenings to provide a diagnosis. At times, the process requires working through a differential diagnosis, i.e., assessing many different factors to rule out other medical conditions. Once a doctor properly diagnoses AMI, treatment must focus on returning blood flow to prevent long-term brain injury. Options may include:

  • Supplying oxygen through mechanical ventilation or other breathing assistance equipment;
  • Reviving the heart through electronic means to restore normal heartbeat;
  • Managing heart rate and rhythm through medication or external devices; and,
  • Lowering the body temperature intentionally to slow and preserve brain function.

Without the proper diagnosis, in a timely manner, this essential treatment cannot begin. Brain tissue dies without oxygen, leading to permanent damage.

A Florida Heart Attack Malpractice Lawyer Can Explain Your Rights 

Errors in diagnosing AMI may give rise to a claim for medical malpractice, particularly if you or a loved one sustained brain injuries due to the mistake. Physicians have a duty to properly diagnose medical conditions, and to provide prompt, effective treatment right away. For more information on your options, please contact Freidin Brown, P.A. to set up a free consultation at our offices. Our Miami heart attack malpractice attorneys can review your circumstances and advise you regarding your rights.


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