Women in New Mexico who have anxiety might also suffer from undiagnosed heart disease based on a study published on Feb. 23 in an online medical journal. The symptoms of the two are similar and include shortness of breath, palpitations and fatigue.

Women are more likely than men to have anxiety disorders, but they are just as likely to die of a heart attack. Around 25 percent of female deaths annually are due to heart attacks, and it is the number one killer for women in the United States. Symptoms of a heart attack in women often differ from those in men. Women may have pain in the abdomen, jaw, throat, back or neck and might experience a burning sensation in the chest.

The study examined 760 women out of a total of over 2,300 patients. The subjects had a psychiatric interview as well as an exercise stress test. It found that unlike men, women with anxiety tended to have ischemia, reduced blood flow that means the heart may get less oxygen. Doctors may attribute this ischemia to anxiety rather than heart disease, particularly in patients with no history of heart disease, and misdiagnose some women. Researchers say women with these symptoms should have tests to rule out heart disease.

Failing to diagnose a woman with heart disease can lead to delayed treatment and even death. It is not uncommon for the symptoms of a heart attack in women to go unrecognized by both the woman herself and medical professionals. Patients who have faced such a misdiagnosis or families who have lost a loved one due to a misdiagnosis may want to speak to an attorney about filing a medical malpractice suit against the medical professionals and the facility where the misdiagnosis occurred.