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Hospitals Seeing Reduced Heart Attack Visits Amid Outbreak

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An unusual medical trend has occurred in Spain during the COVID-19 outbreak, and now hospitals in the U.S. are seeing a similar pattern. I caught up with Dr. Russell Silverman, a cardiologists at St. Joseph’s Health in Syracuse.

“Eight major hospitals across our country have noticed a significant reduction in the frequency of STEMI or heart attacks coming to the hospitals acutely,” said Silverman.

According to a study published by the journal of American cardiology, there was a 38-percent reduction in emergency room procedures for heart attacks during the last week of March.

“Either the patients are less active, they’re not stressing themselves, or there’s less pollution in the air and less stress on the body that would create this type of event,” said Silverman.

The more likely theory for these drastic reductions is a more concerning one.

“The concern is this is not a real finding, and that heart attacks are occurring at the same rate as they have before but we’re just not seeing them at the hospital because patients are not coming to the hospital for fear of contracting COVID-19,” Silverman said.

If patients choose to stay home instead of going to the hospital, the results could be catastrophic.

“We are going to find that they’ve had heart attacks and there’s nothing we can do at that point. They may show up with congestive heart failure, they may show up with rhythm disturbances,” said Silverman.

Given the potential for health problems down the road if heat attack symptoms such as pressure, tightness or pain in the chest or arms are ignored, Dr. Silverman has some advice.

“Now the recommendation is not to ignore a potentially catastrophic event for yourself because you’re concerned about COVID when we are prepared to take care of your heart attack expeditiously and get you out of the hospital as soon as possible,” said Silverman.  

For those that are scared of getting COVID-19 at a hospital, the risks are very small for a patient to catch the virus from another patient during an emergency department visit.

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