Don’t ignore heart attack symptoms, even during COVID-19

It’s your heart. Don’t hesitate. If you’re experiencing symptoms of a heart attack or stroke, doctors urge you to not delay seeking treatment because of COVID-19 concerns.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, doctors are reporting a sharp decline in patients coming to the hospital for heart attacks and strokes. These conditions don’t stop during a pandemic, and the decline has doctors worried that many people experiencing symptoms may not be seeking treatment, or that they are seeking treatment only after their condition has worsened. Delaying care could pose a significant threat to your health.

“Heart attacks and strokes required emergency care before the COVID-19 pandemic, and they continue to require emergency care now,” said Sean D. Pokorney, MD, MBA, Assistant Professor of Medicine in the division of cardiology at Duke University School of Medicine based in the US. “If you are experiencing symptoms, contact your doctor as you may need immediate care to save your life.”

You may be having a heart attack if you have symptoms such as:

* Chest pain

* Difficulty breathing

* Discomfort in your chest, arms, back, neck, shoulder or jaw

You may be having a stroke if you are experiencing:

* Numbness, weakness or loss of movement in your face, leg or arm, especially on one side

* Loss of balance

* Confusion, including trouble speaking or understanding

Patients may be understandably nervous about going to a hospital during COVID-19, but hospitals have implemented many safety measures to protect you from coronavirus. These facilities are ready now to safely care for you if you are experiencing serious health issues. Waiting now can cause complications later.

Bad news doesn’t get better with time. Delaying treatment for a heart attack or stroke can have serious consequences, causing a bad condition to worsen and making recovery more difficult. For some patients, postponing care can be the difference between life and death.

The recovery period after a heart attack may also require critical care.

If you’ve had a heart attack, your doctor can help to determine if you are at risk and can discuss treatment options to keep you safe. But they can only help if you follow up on your symptoms.

If you are having symptoms of a heart attack or stroke, getting care quickly is critical to your treatment and recovery. When you seek help immediately, the care you receive is more likely to be lifesaving, you can likely get better more quickly, and you can limit the damage to your heart and your overall health. – BPT