Statistics on Heart Attacks and Stroke

Every 40 seconds, someone in the United States has a heart attack. Each year, roughly 805,000 Americans suffer a heart attack. (1)

Every 40 seconds, someone in the United States has a stroke. Each year, more than 795,000 Americans have a stroke. Death due to stroke happens every 4 minutes. (2)

New York State Heart Attack and Stroke Statistics

“Heart disease is the leading cause of death for both men and women in the United States and in New York State.” (3)

The 182 acute care hospitals in New York discharged 27,552 heart attack patients. The overall mortality rate after 30 days was 8.31%. (4)

Across New York state, stroke was the fifth leading cause of death. Roughly 6,000 people die from stroke annually in New York state. (5) (6)

Heart Attacks

A heart attack is a specific event. You can suffer a heart attack if you have coronary heart disease, the most common form of heart disease. You develop it when plaque — fat, cholesterol, and other substances — builds up and narrows the arteries in your heart. (7) (8)

You can have a heart attack when one of your arteries becomes completely or nearly blocked. If this happens, blood can’t reach your heart effectively. Damage or death to part of your heart muscle can occur. (9)

Other Names for Heart Attacks

Acute coronary syndrome is an umbrella term for when the blood supply to your heart is blocked suddenly for some reason.

Doctors may describe these types of events using specific terms, such as: (10)

  • STEMI: A heart attack brought on by a complete blockage in one of your coronary arteries.
  • NSTEMI: A heart attack brought on by a partially blocked coronary artery.
  • Myocardial infarction: Damage or death to an area of your heart muscle because the blood supply was blocked. This is the medical term doctors use for “heart attack.”
  • Coronary thrombosis: Formation of a blood clot in one of your coronary arteries.
  • Coronary occlusion: An obstruction in one of your coronary arteries reduces or prevents blood flow to a part of your heart muscle.
  • Sudden cardiac arrest (SCA): This is not the same thing as a heart attack. SCA is an electrical problem with your heart. Death occurs because your heart has malfunctioned and stopped. If you experience a heart attack, you can also go into sudden cardiac arrest.

Heart Attack Symptoms

The longer it takes to receive the right treatment for a heart attack, the greater the possible damage you experience.

It’s important for you to recognize and tell doctors of these possible symptoms: (11)

  • Chest discomfort or pain, such as intense pressure or squeezing. The pain usually hits in the center or left side of your chest. The pain may come and go or last over a few minutes.
  • Feeling faint, weak, or light-headed. You might also break into a cold sweat.
  • Pain or discomfort in your neck, jaw, back, arm, or shoulder.
  • Shortness of breath.
  • Unusual tiredness, nausea, or vomiting — particularly if you are a woman.

Diagnosing a Heart Attack

If you’re at an emergency room (ER), your doctor should ask about your symptoms. Your doctor should also check your blood pressure, pulse, and temperature. Then the doctor should connect you to a heart monitor and perform tests to see whether or not you’re having a heart attack. (12)

Your doctor may use some or all of these diagnostic tools: (13)

  • Electrocardiogram (ECG).
  • Blood tests.
  • Chest X-ray.
  • Echocardiogram.
  • Coronary catheterization (angiogram).
  • Cardiac CT or MRI.

Was your heart attack or stroke not treated properly due to medical malpractice? Speak to an experienced attorney today for a free consultation.

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Basically, a stroke is a brain attack. You can suffer a stroke when: (14)

  • Blood can’t reach your brain because of a blockage — ischemic stroke.
  • A blood vessel in your brain bursts — hemorrhagic stroke.

If blood can’t reach your brain, your brain cells can’t get the oxygen and nutrients they need. Your brain cells can start to die within just a few minutes. You can die. Or you could suffer long-term disability from brain damage. (15)

Anyone having a stroke needs immediate and appropriate treatment. Not only can it save your life, the right diagnosis and treatment can increase your chances for successful rehabilitation and recovery. (16)

Stroke Symptoms

Symptoms of stroke may come on suddenly.

You need an appropriate diagnosis and correct treatment right away if you experience: (17)

  • Sudden numbness or weakness on one side of your body — often your face, arm, or leg.
  • Sudden confusion, such as difficulty speaking or understanding speech.
  • Sudden trouble seeing clearly, in one or both eyes.
  • Sudden difficulty walking, a sense of dizziness, or loss of balance or coordination.
  • Sudden severe headache without an identifiable cause.

Diagnosing a Stroke

Once you arrive at the hospital, emergency personnel should move quickly to help you.

They may use these tests and treatments: (18)

  • Basic physical exam, including listening to your heart and checking your blood pressure.
  • Neurological exam to see if you show signs of a stroke.
  • Blood tests to see how fast your blood is clotting, check for any type of infection, and learn what your blood sugar level is.
  • Computerized tomography (CT) scan or other imaging test.
  • Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI).
  • Carotid ultrasound.
  • Cerebral angiogram.
  • Echocardiogram.

Malpractice Causes

Heart attacks and strokes are medical emergencies. If you experienced a heart attack and survived, damage still may have been done. This damage could affect your heart long-term. You could be at risk for having another heart attack or serious medical problems — including stroke, kidney disorders, and peripheral arterial disease. (19)

If you think your doctor was responsible for your heart attack misdiagnosis or lack of treatment, you could have a case for medical malpractice.

Possible heart attack misdiagnoses include:

  • Your doctor’s failure to diagnose an impending heart attack.
  • Improper care once your heart attack occurred.

In the case of stroke misdiagnosis, you could have a case of medical malpractice for:

  • A delay in diagnosis.
  • Improper care once your stroke occurred.
  • Failure to administer tissue plasminogen activator (tPA), an FDA-approved treatment for clots.

You may also be able to file a misdiagnosed stroke lawsuit if you think your doctor committed a misdiagnosis of stroke after surgery malpractice.

Other malpractice causes could include:

  • Failure to take proper medical histories or conduct thorough physical examinations.
  • Failure to administer medications to you.

Are you suffering because your doctor misdiagnosed a heart attack or stroke? You may be eligible for compensation.

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Proving Malpractice

In order to have a stroke or heart attack misdiagnosis lawsuit be successful, your attorney must prove medical malpractice occurred.

“To prove medical malpractice occurred, a plaintiff must show that during the course of treatment, the physician deviated from the standard of care as defined by the medical community, and that substandard treatment caused injury to the patient.” (20)

Proving this takes a lot of time, effort, and experience. You need an attorney who has done it all before and can do it all again — for you.

Hiring a Lawyer or Filing a Lawsuit

If you believe your doctor misdiagnosed your heart attack or stroke, consult with a heart attack or stroke lawyer. If you suffered physical harm, or a loved one died, you should file a misdiagnosed stroke lawsuit or a misdiagnosed heart attack lawsuit.

Medical malpractice lawsuits are highly complex. Be sure to hire an experienced, reputable attorney licensed to practice law in the state your injury occurred in.

Litigation Statistics

One study found, “The average payout in settlements was $1,802,693, and the average payout in plaintiff verdicts was $9,705,099” for strokes. (21)

Out of “246 medical malpractice cases related to the acute management of ischemic stroke and 26 related to intracranial hemorrhage,” more than 70 “cases specifically alleged a failure to treat with tPA (tissue-type plasminogen activator).” A total of 121 resulted in successful stroke malpractice settlements. (22)

How W&L Can Help

If you were seriously hurt, or a loved one died, because your heart attack or stroke was misdiagnosed or not diagnosed, you may choose to sue for damages. You may also want to sue if your heart attack or stroke was mishandled, or if your medical treatment was delayed.

Any injuries you suffered may have life-altering consequences. Hiring the right attorney can make all the difference in achieving the best possible outcome for your medical malpractice lawsuit.

Weitz & Luxenberg has over 30 years of handling personal injury, medical malpractice, and wrongful death lawsuits in the state of New York. Plus, our attorneys have a solid history of winning cases.

Here are just two examples of cases we won for our clients:

  • $2.35 million settlement — A woman developed symptoms of pancreatitis and went to a hospital. They didn’t perform necessary diagnostic tests and sent her home. The next day, she was rushed to another hospital. While there, she was diagnosed but ignored for hours. She had seizures, lapsed into a coma, and died shortly afterwards.
  • $500,000 million settlement – A young woman went to multiple ERs with abdominal pain and bloating. Doctors noted her misplaced IUD and diagnosed her pelvic inflammatory disease, but made terrible mistakes in multiple surgical procedures. She continued to suffer one medical complication after another, including pulmonary emboli and a severe infection. Ultimately, her uterus, health, and quality of life were irreparably harmed.