Early diagnosis and treatment can mean the difference between a full recovery and life-long complications or death when a cardiovascular emergency occurs. While medicine has developed a plethora of effective preventive and treatment procedures and medications, all too often, these life-threatening events go undiagnosed and untreated for too long. And when a doctor fails to properly identify the symptoms of a cardiovascular event while it’s still in its early stages, they risk extensive damage to their patient’s brain.
Cardiovascular disease refers to any disorder that affects the heart or blood vessels. These disorders can, at any time, cause a medical emergency by interrupting the flow of blood to the heart and/or brain. These events require immediate treatment and can result in permanent, widespread damage or death if treatment is delayed. Some of the most well known cardiovascular events are:
Heart attacks typically occur when one of the blood vessels that feed the heart becomes blocked, causing the cells in that part of the heart to die. Strokes can occur due to a blood clot in the brain, which causes the cells in that part of the brain to die. Stroke can also occur due to uncontrolled bleeding in the brain, so it’s essential to determine the cause of a stroke before attempting treatment. An aneurysm occurs when the wall of a blood vessel becomes weakened and bulges out. An aneurysm on its own isn’t necessarily dangerous, but when that “balloon” ruptures, it can cause a serious form of stroke.
It’s well known that strokes and aneurysms cause injury to the brain. What’s less well known is that heart attacks can also cause brain damage if not treated early. Any time blood flow to the brain is interrupted, brain damage becomes a concern. This can happen by either clotting or bleeding within the brain itself or when the heart’s ability to pump blood to the brain is reduced or stopped.
Studies have shown that heart damage often results in brain damage with symptoms such as memory loss, difficulty speaking, problems with visual processing, impaired mobility, slowed response times, changes in personality, and epilepsy. The severity of any brain injury depends on how much time the brain goes without oxygen and which areas of the brain are affected. Because of this, the swift diagnosis and treatment of a heart attack, and any other cardiovascular event, is crucial for preventing long-term brain damage.
While some people can bounce back from relatively minor brain injuries within a few weeks, others may require intense rehabilitation. In severe cases, the goal is not to recover fully but to adapt and learn to live with permanent impairments. Common therapy options include:
Stroke and heart attack are often the first things we think of when an elderly person experiences symptoms like chest pain or trouble speaking. However, when someone under 45 presents with the classic symptoms of heart attack or stroke, emergency physicians are 30 percent more likely to misdiagnose or overlook their symptoms. Frequently, symptoms of a stroke in younger adults are attributed to anything from migraines to substance abuse. In addition, people of any age with mild stroke or heart attack symptoms are often misdiagnosed because their symptoms can mimic other conditions.
When the symptoms of a cardiovascular event are overlooked or misdiagnosed, the consequences can range from minor to catastrophic. Any delay in treatment due to a misdiagnosis can cause damage to the brain, which affects all areas of a person’s life.
After a heart attack or stroke, it doesn’t take long for blood flow to the brain to be reduced enough to cause permanent damage. Once blood flow stops or is significantly reduced, brain injury can occur within minutes. Because of this, it’s essential that an accurate diagnosis is made as soon as possible and that the appropriate treatment is started. Performing CPR and shocking the patient with a defibrillator within the first minutes after a heart attack can get the heart pumping properly again. In the case of a stroke, quick treatment to either remove a clot or stop the bleeding is essential.
This is often one of the most challenging questions to answer. It’s rare that a physician completely misses or ignores the signs of a stroke or heart attack, particularly when it presents with the classic symptoms or in an age group where stroke or heart attack is common. It becomes more difficult when a patient has mild or atypical symptoms or is younger than the typical stroke or heart attack victim. In these cases, a cardiovascular event may be overlooked in favor of a more likely diagnosis. That said, a doctor can certainly be guilty of malpractice when diagnosing and treating a cardiovascular event. If any brain damage has been sustained, it’s important to get a second opinion.
If you or a loved one has suffered a brain injury due to the misdiagnosis or delayed diagnosis of a cardiovascular event, you may have grounds to sue for malpractice. If your doctor didn’t follow standard medical practice and it resulted in a delayed diagnosis, then you may be entitled to compensation. The first step is to get a second opinion. Was your loved one’s stroke ignored because they’re “too young”? Was a heart attack misdiagnosed because women don’t always have the “classic” symptoms that men usually develop? If your doctor was negligent in making the proper diagnosis or didn’t provide the proper treatment, then look for a legal team with the experience needed to get you the justice you deserve.
If a doctor’s negligence has resulted in permanent brain injury after a cardiovascular event, then contact the office of Ross Feller Casey. Our team of lawyers has decades of experience winning medical malpractice cases for our clients. We have doctor-lawyers on staff who understand the complexities of diagnosing and treating heart attacks and strokes and are ready to put their experience to work for you.
The team at Ross Feller Casey has recovered more than $3 billion for our clients, including more than $1 billion in the past five years alone. Our team has proven, with over 50 $10-million-plus verdicts and settlements, that we aren’t satisfied until you and your family receive monetary compensation for the pain and suffering you’ve been through, along with whatever may come your way in the future. There’s no fee unless you win, and consultations are always free. So contact us today.
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