By Brett Campbell
There are concerns that people having heart attacks are avoiding seeking medical treatment as a result of the coronavirus crisis.
The Western Health Trust has noted a dramatic fall in the number of people presenting with symptoms.
Dr Paul McGlinchey is a consultant cardiologist and says the worrying trend is being seen in all regions.
“We have noticed that the number of patients coming to hospital with common cardiac conditions such as heart attacks has fallen away dramatically and this is a pattern that has been seen in all regions affected by the COVID-19 outbreak,” he explained.
“We know the public are listening to the public health messages to stay at home and away from hospitals during the COVID-19 pandemic, however, we don’t think that there are any less patients suffering from these common cardiac conditions.”
“We think that patients are avoiding seeking medical attention for their complaints because of the public advice given or perhaps because of a fear on being exposed to COVID-19 if they attend the hospital.”
The expert is seeking to reassure patients that there are “excellent” treatment options available for treating common cardiac conditions which can help with symptoms.
He says they can also protect against short and long-term disability and prevent death.
“Many of the common cardiac conditions such as heart attacks require urgent treatment to avoid complications. The most effective treatment only happens through fast diagnosis and then fast treatment of the cardiac condition and should not be ignored,” he added
“A failure to access healthcare professionals may have significant consequences for patients and their loved ones.
“Our cardiology teams across the Western Trust are experienced weighing up risks and benefits and coming to a balanced conclusion.
“That is why we have introduced a new service for patients in the Western Trust area which allows for a balanced approach. This new service aims to provide a more rapid and safer alternative for patients to come and see us.”
Patients with chest pain, shortness of breath, palpitations and blackouts should contact the service by telephone for initial assessment.
It is open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
An experienced cardiac nurse can assess medical history over the telephone and will have full access to previous records.
Patients will be; reassured that their history is not suggestive of a cardiac complaint, offered a face-to-face assessment to include blood tests, ECGs and X rays or Informed to phone 999.
The number to call is 02882 833129 or 02877 246958