Thousands of heart attack victims had symptoms missed

Thousands of heart attack victims have had symptoms missed by a doctor weeks before their death, a major study has found.

One in six fatal heart attacks in England are suffered by people who have been examined in hospital less than a month before they died, but no heart attack symptoms were recorded.

The findings, which imply thousands of fatal heart attacks could have been avoided, show Britain’s doctors are still missing the early symptoms of a heart attack despite years of awareness campaigns.

Thousands of heart attack victims have had symptoms missed by a doctor weeks before their death, a major study has found (file photo)

Red flags such as chest pain, shortness of breath or nausea, if spotted, could save someone’s life.

But the Imperial College London team said doctors were not ‘alert to the possibility’ these signalled an upcoming fatal heart attack.

Some 188,000 people suffer heart attacks in Britain each year, and nearly 70,000 die as a result.

The chance of surviving is significantly increased with quick treatment.

An initial misdiagnosis drives up the chance of dying within four weeks by 70 per cent, previous research has found.

Cardiologists warn that not enough people know the symptoms of a heart attack - and often mistake the warning signs for indigestion or muscle pain.

Many people assume that a heart attack strikes suddenly, with someone clutching their chest and keeling over.

Instead, it often happens gradually, with people typically complaining of nausea and an aching chest, jaw or arms.

As a result, doctors may incorrectly misdiagnose the symptoms as a less serious problem, such as a muscle strain or digestive problem.

The authors of the new study, published in the Lancet Public Health journal, examined records

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