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One of the unintended consequences of the COVID-19 messaging to ‘Stay at Home’ is that it has resulted in very high levels of fear around visiting a doctor or going to hospital. A recent survey on the impact of COVID-19 by the Global Heart Hub across 19 countries reported that the biggest fear of heart patients is contracting the virus and their second biggest fear is visiting their doctor or going to hospital.
In recent weeks, many people with heart and stroke emergencies have delayed seeking medical help or decided to just ‘sit it out’ and stay at home because of their fear of COVID-19.
This delay in taking action has resulted in worse outcomes, ranging from unnecessary loss of life to people being left with disability, chronic heart conditions and poorer quality of life.
Doctors are reporting that those who delay in seeking medical help are in a far worse condition when they finally arrive at hospital and they are often too late to benefit from the life-saving treatments that are normally available to them.
Medical advice has always been to act quickly when it comes to symptoms of a heart attack or stroke. “Time is muscle” – the longer you wait with a heart attack, the more damage occurs to your heart muscle. The same applies in the case of stroke.
The message is simple and clear – If you are experiencing the symptoms of a heart attack or stroke, -Don’t delay – Every minute counts. If you have chest pain or other heart attack symptoms – such as pain in the throat, neck, back, stomach or shoulders that lasts for more than 15 minutes – you must call an ambulance.
Equally, if you are living with a heart condition and if you are experiencing new symptoms or a worsening of symptoms contact your doctor or go to a hospital as soon as possible.
Be assured that the risk of coronavirus infection in hospital has been minimised for those being admitted with heart attacks or strokes. Remember that the risk of dying from an untreated heart attack is 10 times higher than dying from COVID-19.
If you are experiencing a heart or stroke emergency – this is NOT the time to ‘stay at home’ – If your heart says so, #JustGo.