Gaining weight is a common occurrence as we age. Weight gain can be treated with some lifestyle changes like diet and exercise, and healthy weight loss can result in positive health benefits. Sometimes we gain weight slowly over the years and don’t quite realize it! Rapid weight gain, on the other hand, can be attributed to various factors, some of which can be quite serious. When one gains weight quickly, it’s important to check a medical checkup to make sure nothing serious is happening. Medical conditions resulting in rapid weight gain can often be treated, if properly diagnosed. While one would hope that one’s treating physician would follow the proper steps to find the reason behind the weight gain, that — sadly — does not always happen. A Houston woman went through such a situation where her doctor attributed her weight gain to aging when it was actually caused by something much more serious.
Failure to properly diagnose
The woman in question was in her early 50s and led a reasonably healthy lifestyle when she started to gain weight and experience acid reflux more frequently. She was assured by her physician that it was due to aging, but her symptoms escalated. A visit to urgent care, which led to a visit to a local emergency room, showed that she had developed congestive heart failure, which is a progressive condition that affects the pumping action of the heart muscles. In heart failure, fluid builds up within the heart and causes it to pump inefficiently. This is a serious condition and requires prompt recognition and diagnosis by competent doctors.
Fortunately, in this case, it seems that the patient was eventually diagnosed in time to receive treatment for her condition, even though at the time of admission her heart was only functioning at 12%! Many are not so lucky and congestive heart failure can be fatal. In fact, heart failure is a leading cause of death in women over 65. However, this patient is now at risk of complications related to her congestive heart failure and has undergone several serious medical treatments, including having a pacemaker implanted. She has had to retire from her work and shut down her wedding planning company, will likely deal with the implications of this for the rest of her life.
The implications of a misdiagnosis
Heart failure is a very serious condition and one that is best dealt with in the early stages. When a doctor dismisses a patient’s concerns about symptoms that may be related to heart disease, they are putting the patient at risk for long-term heart conditions. Tests must be done to ascertain what the patient’s medical condition actually is, and not just dismissed as a natural part of aging. If a patient feels that their concerns were not taken seriously and they are later diagnosed with progressed congestive heart failure or another serious condition, they may be able to pursue a civil case against the doctor and/or medical care facility responsible in an attempt to hold the healthcare providers accountable and to prevent this from happening to other patients. Texans who find themselves in such a position can find comfort in speaking with an experienced medical malpractice attorney.
In addition, we laud that this patient is advocating through the Hear Your Heart initiative to empower women with heart failure, especially Black and Latina women, to understand and prioritize their heart health. At Marynell Maloney Law Firm, we believe in supporting patients injured through malpractice – not just through litigation – but in efforts to ensure these terrible events don’t happen to anyone else and are open to proactive solutions that support good healthcare and safe patients outcomes.