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Spectrum Health answers "Where have all the heart attacks gone?"

Patients aren't seeking treatment during pandemic
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spectrum Health explains lack of reported heart attacks in 2020
Posted at 10:16 AM, Feb 04, 2021
and last updated 2021-02-04 10:16:09-05

Throughout 2020, there was an increase in heart-related deaths. It's not solely attributed to COVID-19, but to the fact that many people with heart disease and at high-risk for heart attacks are avoiding treatment during the pandemic. There are even many reported cases of people suffering heart attacks who have avoided treatment.

Dr. David Wohns, Spectrum Health Division Chief of Interventional Cardiology explains the rise in heart-related deaths during the COVID-19 pandemic.

COVID-19 and heart disease frequently pop up together in discussions of the pandemic. But what does COVID-19 have to do with heart disease and how are the two related?

The sad fact is that heart attacks have not gone anywhere. Fear of COVID-19 is keeping more than half of heart attack patients away from hospitals.

Fear of catching the coronavirus means that people in the midst of a life-threatening heart attack have been afraid to go to the hospital for life-saving treatment. However, the risk of dying from a heart attack is greater than dying of COVID, and cardiac death is largely preventable or reduced if you get to the hospital in time for treatment.

In one study during the first wave of the pandemic, it was shown that there were 87,000 excess deaths more than would be expected in a 2-month period in the US, but only 2/3 of these were due to COVID.

To make sure patients are seeking the treatment they need, The American Heart Association has started two campaigns: “Don’t Die of Doubt” and “Stop Medical Distancing.” They strongly encourage those suffering from heart attacks or any other cardiac problem to do the following:

  • Do not avoid regular check-ups and care because of fear of COVID.
  • Maintain regularly scheduled visits with your cardiologist, keep taking your medication.
  • Speak up - do not wait to get care.
  • Stay in touch with your doctor through virtual visits.
  • If you believe you are suffering a heart attack, seek care immediately.
  • Do not wait to call if you think you or a loved one are suffering a heart attack.
  • Call 911 immediately: A few minutes can mean the difference between surviving and not surviving a heart attack.

Spectrum Health wants patients to stop medical distancing and get the care they need to save their life. Do not avoid care or treatment due to fear of the pandemic.

To learn more, visit spectrumhealth.org/patient-care/cariovascular. Make an appointment by calling (855)-7-MY-HEART