Heart attack patients ’collateral damage’ of Covid pandemic
THE number of heart attack patients seeking urgent hospital care has dropped by more than 50 percent during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, according to an extensive worldwide survey by the European Society of Cardiology (ESC).
"This is the strongest evidence yet of the collateral damage caused by the pandemic," said ESC President Professor Barbara Casadei.
"Fear of catching the coronavirus means even people in the midst of a life-threatening heart attack are too afraid to go to hospital for life-saving treatment."
"There has been a lack of public reassurance that every effort has been made to provide clean hospital areas for non-COVID-19 patients."
According to Ms Casadei, since the risk of dying of a heart attack is much higher than dying of COVID-19, hospitals worldwide are witnessing an unnecessary loss of life.
"Our priority must be to stop this from happening. We must continue to save the lives we know how to save," she said.
The ESC survey of 3,101 healthcare professionals in 141 countries was conducted in mid-April.
The vast majority of hospital physicians and nurses answering the survey reported a drop in the number of patients with severe heart attacks coming to hospital, compared to before the COVID-19 crisis.
On average, there was a 50 percent decrease in patients seeking medical treatment, and of the ones who did go to the hospital, 48 percent arrived later than usual and beyond the optimal window for urgent treatment.
In a separate survey of interventional cardiologists, researchers found a 28 percent increase in life-threatening complications among patients with heart attacks during the pandemic.
This poll, conducted by the European Association of Percutaneous Cardiovascular Interventions (EAPCI), surveyed more than 600 interventional cardiologists from 84 countries during the first two weeks of April.
Nearly half of respondents said restoration of blood flow was delayed due to COVID-19 fears, a situation likely to lead to premature death and disability.
"The delays we are seeing in heart attack patients coming to hospital have significant harmful consequences," said EAPCI President-Elect Professor Dariusz Dudek.
"Patients who do not present promptly are in a far worse condition when they finally arrive at hospital and they are often too late to benefit from the life-saving treatment that we can provide."
"Don't delay if you have heart attack symptoms: call emergency."
"Every minute counts."