A new study examined out-of-hospital cardiac arrest records in Wayne, Oakland, and Macomb counties from March 23 through May 31, 2020. Researchers compared those records to data for the same period in 2019 and found that the number of cardiac arrests that occurred outside of hospitals soared to 1,854 during the early months of the pandemic, a 60% increase over the same period the year before.
Deaths from cardiac arrest also increased to 1,400 cases, a 42% jump from the previous year.
The increase in cardiac arrests and deaths due to cardiac arrests likely is attributable to several factors, both directly and indirectly related to COVID-19, says J. Adam Oostema, an associate professor of emergency medicine in the Michigan State University College of Human Medicine and coauthor of the paper in JAMA Network Open.
Oostema worked with coauthors from the state Department of Health and Human Services to analyze cardiac arrest data from the Emergency Services Information System.
“Early in the pandemic, people were appropriately advised to stay at home,” Oostema says. “Unfortunately, some people may have taken this too far by failing to seek necessary medical attention.”
Out of fear of contracting COVID-19, or concern for overwhelming hospitals, some patients likely delayed routine primary care or waited too long to seek emergency help when they experienced symptoms of a heart attack, Oostema says.
To combat this behavior, the American Heart Association started a public service campaign—”Don’t Die of Doubt”—urging people not to delay calling 911 at the first sign of a heart attack or stroke, says coauthor Mathew Reeves, professor of epidemiology and biostatistics.
“It is incredibly important that people not delay care, especially if they are having concerning symptoms like chest pain, difficulty breathing or dizziness,” Khaldun says. “Hospitals and EMS providers are working hard to keep patients safe, so please contact them if you are having a medical emergency.”
Read the full article about heart attacks by Kim Ward at Futurity.
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