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PTSD complications a risk for heart attack survivors

In the stressful and fast-paced environment of an emergency room, a patient's most immediate needs are addressed first. Longer-term recovery plans may be left to the responsibility of other doctors, after a patient has stabilized. However, the results of a new study suggest that emergency room negligence might be causing the longer-term needs of some heart attack survivors to go unattended.

According to a recent study by the Columbia University Medical Center, 1 in 8 patients develops post traumatic stress disorder after experiencing a major heart event. More than 1.4 million Americans are discharged from hospitals each year after suffering acute coronary syndrome. Based on the study results, that means that up to 168,000 patients might develop PTSD each year after surviving a heart attack.

Researchers believe that PTSD may double the risk of a second heart event or even death within 1 to 3 years after the patients' initial attack. Consequently, making patients, their families and medical professionals aware of the incidence of PTSD after heart events can be critical. The president of the American Heart Association agrees, urging practitioners to recognize the possibly of PTSD in patients that have experienced an acute coronary syndrome and refer patients to appropriate treatment, as necessary.

Although some emotional upset is to be expected after a heart attack, the research focused on studies of patients whose PTSD symptoms lasted more than 1 month after their heart incident.

If you believe your emergency room physician failed to refer you to appropriate specialists or failed to diagnose a serious medical condition in a timely manner, an attorney can advise you of any recovery to which you might be entitled.

Source: CNN Health, "PTSD strikes one in eight heart attack patients," Ann J. Curley, June 20, 2012

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