SYRACUSE, N.Y. (WSYR-TV) — The coronavirus pandemic appears to be creating a ripple effect. Doctors worldwide and in our own backyard are asking the question: are heart attack patients avoiding hospitals because of COVID-19?
“It really started in Italy and Spain. They’ve noticed a 70 to 80 percent decrease in the number of [heart attack] patients that come to the hospital,” said Cardiologist Russell Silverman with St. Joseph’s Health.
Silverman said it’s too early to measure the exact numbers at St. Joseph’s Health, but he’s concerned.
“People are dialing 911 with symptoms, they’re being told they need to go to the hospital because of their chest pain, and they’re refusing,” he said.
Patients may either be scared to come into contact with COVID-19 at the hospital or do not want to place more of a burden on medical professionals, but Silverman said it’s also too early to pinpoint the exact reason behind the trend.
Still, if patients aren’t getting the help they need, the long-term effects could be catastrophic. Silverman also fears what cardiologists might see when COVID-19 is behind us.
“We’re gonna see patients coming to the hospital and cardiologists’ office having had a heart attack and now they’re in trouble with either congestive heart failure or worsening chest pain,” he said.
St. Joseph’s Hospital, Crouse Hospital and Upstate University Hospital have created a standard plan to prevent patient-to-patient spread of COVID-19.
“Don’t ignore your chest pain. COVID-19 is also capable of causing chest pain,” said Dr. Silverman.
Some doctors at Upstate University Hospital have anecdotally seen evidence that might support the notion that people are trying to avoid going to the hospital.
“Upstate University Hospital cardiologists recommend patients experiencing chest pain or other heart attack symptoms continue to call 911 and follow instructions, or be seen at a local emergency department or urgent care for evaluation. If it is not an emergency situation but you have questions, contact your primary care physician or cardiologist during regular office hours. Never ignore symptoms.”Dr. Debanik Chaudhuri, chief of cardiology at Upstate University Hospital.
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