I Was Misdiagnosed as Having a Heart Attack: Julie’s Story

I Was Misdiagnosed as Having a Heart Attack: Julie’s Story

In November of 2022, I was driving home from work when out of nowhere, my heart started hammering and went out of rhythm.

I made it home and told my partner that I wasn’t okay and needed to go to the ER immediately. We got as far as the local urgent care where I told him to stop. They called me an ambulance as I was experiencing atrial fibrillation, which had never happened before.

The next morning, my heart slipped back into rhythm and all was well. No formal diagnosis or reason was given, just an order to check in with a cardiologist.

Four days later, I woke up at home and couldn’t breathe. I was weak and felt like I was going to pass out. There was no pain, so I wasn’t sure what was happening. I just felt like I was suffocating and I was terrified.

We drove back to the same local ER. They ran some tests as I waited there for six hours. When the doctor did come back, they told me I was having a heart attack and that they were transferring me to another hospital.

Once at the new hospital, a very young doctor came in. He took a good look at my charts and then at me, and said, “You’re NOT having a heart attack.” He sent me for an immediate CT scan where they found sub-massive bilateral pulmonary emboli, which had caused right heart strain.

I was treated with heparin in the hospital and was there for a week. Luckily they did not find any DVTs, and I was finally cleared to leave and was released on an oral anticoagulant.

After further genetic testing, no direct cause for my clots was ever found. My pulmonologist is a firm believer that my atrial fibrillation was caused by the clots and not vice versa, as they were too extensive and established.

Now I am a lifer on oral anticoagulants, which I am okay with. I am thankful every day that my second doctor was so well-trained in diagnosing and treating blood clots. I might not be here to tell the story otherwise.


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