Over half of people who suffered a heart attack during the coronavirus outbreak have avoided or delayed going to hospital due to Covid-19 fears, a new report states.
Research by the European Society of Cardiology found the number of people seeking medical treatment for heart attacks has dropped by more than 50 per cent as people worry about the risk of contracting the virus from inside medical facilities.
For those who did go to hospital for care, the report showed that 48 percent of patients delayed their arrival until it was well beyond the “optimal window for treatment”.
Society president Barbara Casadei says the evidence shows people in the midst of a "life-threatening" heart attack have become too afraid of hospitals due to a fear of contracting Covid-19.
“Yet the risk of dying of a heart attack is much greater than that of dying of Covid-19. Moreover, cardiac death is largely preventable if patients with a heart attack come to hospital in time for treatment.”
Professor Casadei says the delays in patients getting help from medical centres is causing a rise in “unnecessary loss of life”.
With increased delays in patients seeking help, it can result in irreversible damages to the heart muscle as well as significantly increasing the risk of heart failure and death, according to the report.
The European Association of Percutaneous Cardiovascular Interventions found for 600 cardiologists surveyed around the globe, that nearly half of cases where treatment was delayed due to Covid-19 led to premature death or disability.
Association president-elect Darius Dudek says every minute counts when it comes to treating a heart attack.
“Patients who do not present promptly are in far worse condition when they finally arrive at hospital and they are often too late to benefit from the life-saving treatment we can provide.”
He says that patients' fears of coming to hospital due to coronavirus need to be addressed to reduce the risk of heart attack and stroke patients choosing to delay seeking hospital treatment.