Despite many recent advances in cardiovascular diagnosis and treatment, misdiagnosis is still a common concern for patients at risk of heart disease, the leading cause of death in the United States. A complex web of symptoms, circumstances and comorbidities means that it’s not always easy for physicians to correctly identify conditions on the first visit.
Two recent HeartFlow patient stories help illustrate how misdiagnoses can come in a variety of forms: Dennis’ symptoms were originally attributed to asthma, while David visited the ER with chest pain that was initially diagnosed as indigestion.
Fortunately, both patients followed up with their physicians.
David met with his physician, Dr. Gregory Mishkel, at HSHS St. John’s Hospital Prairie Heart Institute, who recognized that his symptoms were unusual. After ordering a Coronary Computed Tomography Angiography scan that showed a significant stenosis, Dr. Mishkel then ordered a HeartFlow Analysis. This provided a comprehensive 3D model of David’s arteries and helped identify the cause of his chest pain.
Similarly, Dennis’ physician, Dr. Peter Maki at Biltmore Cardiology used the HeartFlow Analysis to help identify a blockage in his heart; ultimately, it helped his physician determine that placing a stent was the best treatment option.
A doctor looking at monitors showing heartflow and CT scans Using the HeartFlow Analysis allowed Dennis, David and their physicians to have more information at their disposal to help properly diagnose and treat their coronary artery disease.
In both scenarios, the patients and their physicians had an open dialogue about their symptoms and options for diagnosis.
Watch Patient Stories: Dennis and David
Similar to these examples, regular, open communication from both sides can help prevent misdiagnosis or missed diagnosis. It can also help to combat medical fears and anxieties that keep people from talking to their doctors and seeking the right treatment.
HeartFlow’s recent consumer survey points to how fears can cause people to avoid treatment. The survey found a reluctance among respondents to talk to their doctors about heart disease. Despite 42 percent of Americans knowing they have a family history of heart disease and another 77 percent admitting to worrying about their heart health, most (67 percent) have never sought diagnosis or treatment.
The top concern of survey respondents regarding cardiac care is a misdiagnosis or a missed diagnosis. In fact, more than 1/3 of respondents admitted they have avoided the doctor for fear of what they will find out. This anxiety is understandable, given that other diagnostic tests are less accurate and often miss disease1.
The good news is that new medical technologies are drastically improving the accuracy of diagnosing coronary artery disease.
Tools like the HeartFlow Analysis are helping to improve outcomes1, which in turn can help reduce fears and uncertainty in patients. Dennis and David are just two examples of how things can go right, before it’s too late.