Misdiagnosis nearly kills three

Posted by Elizabeth Stewart - email

(WFLX) - Billie Marie Morrison has tuned in to her health in hopes that you'll pay more attention to yours. Even though her weekly radio show focuses on all women's health, it was her own health that was an issue not too long ago.

"I thought I had a cold that wouldn't go away." Billie was first diagnosed with Pneumonia, then Bronchitis. Turns out, her doctors were wrong.

"I'm like congestive heart failure! I was like, 'Am I going to die?' 'Am I going to die?' he's like, 'You should be dead.'"

Even though more women than men die of heart disease each year, women receive just 33 percent of all angioplasties, stents and bypass surgeries; 28 percent of implantable defibrillators; and 36 percent of open-heart surgeries.

These figures may help explain why 75 percent of men survive a first heart attack, while only 62 percent of women do.

"Heart attacks come in a lot of different shapes and colors, so to speak. Sometimes, women have simple symptoms like short of breath, feel a little sweaty, a little nauseated. That could be a full-blown heart attack right in front of you."

There are other common misdiagnosed problems in women-- diagnosing fatigue, weight gain, irregular periods, cold sensitivity and hair loss to pre menopause and depression. The actual diagnosis-- hypothyroidism.

What about dizziness, loss of leg control and vomiting? At first glance, it seems like an inner ear condition. The actual diagnosis-- stroke.

"Sometimes, it comes in small symptoms, such as 'I'm not as sharp as I used to be.' Their memory is getting worse and sometimes this is a sign that perhaps they're having a mini stroke."

Another common misdiagnosis-- pain in the joints, spine, or knees is often written off as arthritis. Actual diagnosis-- peripheral vascular disease.

Mary Hegland thought her weight gain and fatigue was just a part of getting older. "I actually thought my blood pressure medicine wasn't working."

This active grandmother gained 43 pounds in 19 days. First diagnosed as pre-diabetic, then told she had pneumonia. The true cause-- congestive heart failure.

Doctors told Mary she had lost 90 percent function in her heart. "I went in on Tuesday. I would have been dead by Friday had I not gone in. I feel like I have a new lease on life. I literally have new parts. I have a stent in my heart. I have a pacemaker."

And now, a new will to survive.

Copyright 2010 WFLX. All Rights Reserved.