An estimated 1 in 1,000 to 1 in 5,000 people have a heart disease known as arrhythmogenic right ventricular dysplasia or ARVD. Unfortunately, misdiagnosis of ARVD or failure to diagnose it can have very serious effects, including the possibility of cardiac arrest and sudden death.
Signs and Symptoms of ARVD
ARVD is a disorder that affects your heart’s muscular wall, or myocardium. Over time, the disease leads to deterioration of the myocardium, especially around the right ventricle. Abnormal tissue develops, decreasing your heart’s ability to pump blood effectively and disrupting the normal electrical signals that control the heartbeat.
In the early stages of the disease, you may not experience symptoms. However, if you were to engage in vigorous exercise, you still could be at risk of sudden death. Less extreme, but still serious signs and symptoms of the disease include heart palpitations, light-headedness, chest pain, and fainting. Less common symptoms include shortness of breath, swelling of your legs and abdomen, and general fatigue. Finally, if the disorder is not diagnosed correctly and the damage to your myocardium is extensive, your heart could fail.
Failure to Diagnose ARVD
Many cases of ARVD can go undiagnosed because the symptoms are variable and can be overlooked, especially in people under 40 years old. Typically, symptoms begin occurring during early adulthood, a time when heart disease is not usually discovered. In addition, the disease’s effects on the heart muscle can be relatively minor for many years, and the symptoms can be caused by many other conditions.
Failure to diagnose ARVD also occurs because there is no one reliable test to determine its existence. Diagnosis can require a thorough physical examination and history in addition to a variety of specific noninvasive tests, including an electrocardiogram (ECG or EKG), signal-averaged electrocardiogram (SAECG), an echocardiogram, exercise stress test, 24-hour Holter monitor, and cardiac magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). Invasive testing, including an electrophysiology (EP) study, angiography and biopsy, might also be needed to confirm the existence of the condition.
Misdiagnosis of ARVD
Misdiagnosis of ARVD can occur because of over-reliance on the results of MRI testing and incomplete diagnostic testing. Although MRI results can be useful in helping to diagnose ARVD, relying solely on findings of fat or thinning in the myocardium around the right ventricle can lead to misdiagnosing the condition and subjecting a patient to useless or even harmful medical treatment.
If a family member has been diagnosed with ARVD or has died from heart failure associated with ARVD, you need to be screened for the disease, since it is an inherited condition. In fact, people with the condition have a 50 percent chance of passing it on to their children. Early screening of family members can possibly detect the disease and hopefully help prevent sudden death.
Orlando ARVD Medical Malpractice Lawyer
Although ARVD is not a common cause of heart failure, it causes up to 20% of the sudden cardiac deaths in people less than 35 years of age. Obviously, family screening accurate diagnoses, and appropriate treatment are important.
With proper treatment, most people with ARVD can control their symptoms and live normal lives. However, with an inaccurate diagnosis, people with ARVD are like ticking time bombs. If undetected and untreated, the disease progresses, affecting the heart’s ability to pump blood effectively.
If you or a family member has suffered from failure to diagnose or misdiagnosis of ARVD, you may have a medical malpractice case. Contact the experienced Orlando medical malpractice attorneys at Paul & Perkins to discuss your case.