In the grip of coronavirus fears, COVID-19 is having a major impact on heart health. The biggest of those issues right now, however, is the one we’re NOT seeing – heart attack patients.
Around the world, there is a significant decline (as high as 80%) in patients presenting with heart attack symptoms. The reason? Patients are so concerned about being exposed to COVID-19 in emergency departments, many are choosing to stay home and try to manage mild to moderate symptoms on their own.
Unfortunately, leaving a heart attack or other heart issue untreated can be more dangerous than leaving the house. According to CEO Dr. Bruce Murphy, a heart attack left completely untreated could have a mortality rate of 40-50%, compared to the relatively small chance – around 2% – of dying from COVID-19.
Not seeking treatment for a heart attack can also increase the risk of death in a patient who does contract COVID-19.
Another issue keeping patients home during this time is the overlap in symptoms of heart attack and COVID-19. Chest pain, shortness of breath and pain that radiates into other areas (such as the jaw, back or down the arm) are classic symptoms of heart attack, but could also be signs of COVID-19. In fact, some patients who have come in thinking they are having a heart attack actually tested positive for the virus.
In light of all this, Dr. Murphy has some advice for potential heart attack patients: “Put on a face mask and come get evaluated.”
For more information on COVID-19 and heart health, watch here. To see how Arkansas Heart Hospital is responding, see our COVID-19 precautions.