With the number of coronavirus positive cases rising more steeply; public hospitals are running out of space. Picture: Courtney Africa/African News Agency(ANA)

Heart attack patients avoid hospitals during Covid-19 pandemic

“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.”

DURBAN – The number of heart attack patients seeking urgent hospital care has dropped by more than 50 percent worldwide during the Covid-19 outbreak, a new research suggests.

The survey of 3 101 healthcare professionals in 141 countries was conducted in mid-April. The findings were published in the European Heart Journal — Quality of Care and Clinical Outcomes.

According to the survey, the majority of hospital physicians and nurses reported a drop in the number of patients with severe heart attacks going to hospital, compared to before the Covid-19 pandemic.

European Society of Cardiology (ESC) president, Professor Barbara Casadei said: “This is the strongest evidence yet of the collateral damage caused by the pandemic. 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.”

The survey also found that, on average, 48 percent arrived later than usual and beyond the optimal window for urgent treatment. Nearly half of respondents said the 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. 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,” said Professor Dariusz Dudek. 

“There has been a lack of public reassurance that every effort has been made to provide clean hospital areas for non-Covid-19 patients. Yet the risk of dying of a heart attack is much greater than that of dying of Covid-19,” added Casadei.

 

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