Man dies of MI 6 weeks after cardiologist dismissed his symptoms as anxiety

The widow of a 48-year-old man was awarded $6.3 million this week after her husband, who’d been cleared of CVD by his cardiologist six weeks before his death, suffered a fatal heart attack while jogging.

Local Pennsylvania outlet The Morning Call reported Dec. 10 that James L. Cowher II collapsed during a jog on Aug. 23, 2016, and was found in a nearby ditch by passersby. Just weeks earlier, his cardiologist, Sobhan Kodali of St. Luke’s University Health Network, had dismissed his chest pain and shortness of breath as anxiety and panic attacks.

Karen Cowher filed her suit in 2018, and the case was tried before a jury of 12 this year. The jury unanimously agreed that Kodali had been negligent in failing to diagnose James Cowher with severe coronary artery disease, leading to a death the family’s attorney called “entirely avoidable.”

“He did everything he was supposed to do,” Andy Youman told The Morning Call, noting that Cowher had a family history of CVD and was being proactive about his health. “His cardiologist did not pay enough attention to the details and dismissed his symptoms as noncardiac. That error cost Jim his life.”

A St. Luke’s spokesman said the jury’s verdict was disappointing and called the $6.3 million award a “shockingly high sum.” The hospital maintains that Cowher’s most recent lab studies and electrocardiograms were negative for heart damage, and that he reported being able to exercise without any symptoms.

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