COVID-19 fears possible reason for “dramatic drop” in number of heart patients seeking care: doctors

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TORONTO –
There is growing concern among physicians and health care professionals that patients with serious heart conditions are suspending hospital visits or treatment for fear of contracting the coronavirus.

Dr. Andrew Krahn, President of the Canadian Cardiovascular Society (CCS), told CTVNews.ca on Wednesday that this concern has been preoccupying cardiologists across the country for several weeks.

Until recently, concern has been largely overshadowed by more urgent day-to-day medical needs and news regarding the COVID-19 pandemic.

While it is true that Canadian hospitals began canceling elective surgeries out of caution as early as mid-March, Krahn said this does not explain the 50-60% decrease in the number of patients who would normally visit hospitals. hospitals and clinics. with heart problems.

“We are used to seeing ebb and flow in the area of ​​10% of heart attack cases. So this is a dramatic drop, “said Krahn in a telephone interview with CTVNews.ca in Vancouver.

“The heart attacks continue, but the patients don’t show up,” he added.

Calgary cardiologist shared a story on Twitter on a patient and the serious consequences it can have.

“I lost the battle to save a patient last night because they were waiting [sic] long to come to the hospital, “said Dr. Jeff Shaw in the tweet on Tuesday.

“I know their [sic] now scares hospitals and fears being turned away. If you are sick and need help, hospitals are safe and ready to take care of you. “

WHY THE HESITATION?

Krahn said he and his colleagues had considered a number of scenarios that could potentially explain the decline.

Krahn explains that a heart patient who was placed on COVID-19 isolation may have lowered risk factors because he or she may have stopped smoking, may be taking better medication, may be exercising more and feel less stress.

But Krahn doubts that is the case, given the stressful environment the pandemic has created for just about everyone in the world, he said.

Dr. Debra Isaac, a cardiologist and professor of clinical medicine at the University of Calgary, agrees with Krahn.

She believes the decline in the number of heart cases can be attributed to patients fearing they may be infected with the coronavirus, or that their case is simply not so urgent.

“They might be afraid to come in because they think they might be infected, or they think the pandemic is the highest priority. Heart disease is still the number one killer of Canadians. We want people to realize that heart patients are always the priority, “said Isaac to CTVNews.ca by phone from Calgary.

“We want to let heart patients know that we can keep them safe if they come to the hospital, that we can take care of them and that they are always a priority,” added Isaac.

Krahn echoes this sentiment and wants to remind heart patients that delaying urgent care could end up doing more harm than good.

US SEE A SIMILAR TREND

The American College of Cardiology addressed the decline in a statement released on Tuesday.

The address says that while hospitals across the United States are seeing an increase in the number of patients seeking care for COVID-19, “clinicians would have seen fewer patients go to the emergency room for a heart attack or accident cerebrovascular”.

“Because of fears of contracting COVID-19 or taking up space in hospitals, patients suffering from a heart attack or stroke delay their essential care, causing a new public health crisis”, a said Dr. Martha Gulati, editor of CardioSmart.org.

The college urges heart and stroke patients to seek medical attention if necessary.

KNOW THE SYMPTOMS

According to Krahn, recognizing symptoms of a heart attack, such as chest pain and shortness of breath, or warning signs of a stroke, and seeking timely treatment can make all the difference for a patient.

“We have effective therapies for these conditions. But they must be administered urgently, with a window of opportunity to help reduce the damage and restore health, “he said.

For more information on the warning signs of either disease, you can visit the Heart and Stroke Foundation website.



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