Eau Claire (WQOW) – Studies show fewer people are visiting the emergency room during the COVID-19 pandemic.
At the same time, the death rate of someone having a heart attack has doubled according to a new study.
“Just about four months ago now, I had a difficult time getting to sleep, felt a little bit of chest tightness,” said Chris Colbert, a man who initially ignored signs of his heart attack.
Colbert is the owner and locksmith of Pop-A-Lock in Eau Claire, but in April, he wasn’t feeling his best.
“My wife finally convinced me early in the morning to head into the emergency room because it wasn’t normal for me and found out I was having a heart attack,” said Colbert.
According to a recent Wisconsin Health News report, emergency room visits have decreased as much as 50 percent during the pandemic, but the heart attack death rate has doubled.
Some people are fearful of contracting the coronavirus at the hospital. Colbert’s reason is a little different.
“I didn’t want to be a burden. I didn’t want to just go in and take up space for something that I thought was indigestion,” said Colbert.
Colbert ended up getting care at Marshfield Medical Center.
Dr. Nate Blankenheim, an emergency medicine doctor at Marshfield, said even during our current health crisis, patients should not ignore the signs of life-threatening conditions.
“If your heart is dying, the faster we can get you into a cath lab, get the diagnosis of a heart attack, get you into the cath lab and get that artery opened up, the better you’ll do in the long run,” said Dr. Blankenheim.
Dr. Blankenheim said their hospital workers thoroughly sanitize rooms so people shouldn’t be scared of contracting COVID there.
“We have to think about our safety as well and so by thinking about our own safety, we also apply that to our patients and make sure our patients are safe,” said Dr. Blankenheim.
Colbert said he feels great now and cautions everyone to take their symptoms seriously.
“In this time, if you feel like there’s something wrong, you should go in and make sure you get checked out,” said Colbert.
In addition to heart attacks, Marshfield doctors said more people lately have also delayed treating their stroke symptoms.
For any medical emergency, health experts said the sooner you come in, the better.