Heart, Stroke, and COVID-19: Don’t Ignore the Symptoms of a Heart Attack
Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, regular health care visits have declined. Specifically, Canadian hospitals have seen a 50-60% decrease in the number of patients who would normally visit the hospital with cardiac concerns or problems such as heart attack or stroke.
Many doctors and health care professionals are worried that patients with heart problems are putting off critical hospital visits due to fear of contracting the coronavirus or because they think doctors are too busy to treat them. Whether you have a cardiovascular condition or not, if you have symptoms of a heart attack or stroke, it is important that you do not ignore them. Call 9-1-1 or go to the hospital immediately.
First, let’s review the symptoms of a heart attack and stroke so you know what to look for:
- Chest discomfort
- Upper body discomfort
- Shortness of breath
- Think of the FAST acronym:
- F = Face, is it drooping?
- A = Arms, can you raise both?
- S = Speech, is it slurred or jumbled?
- T = Time to call 9-1-1
- Vision changes
- Sudden, severe headache
- Numbness (usually on one side of the body)
- Issues staying balanced
*Note: These are not comprehensive lists of all of possible signs and symptoms of a heart attack or stroke. If you experience any of these signs, call 9-1-1 immediately.
Even if you are not sure you are having a heart attack or stroke, it is always better to be safe than sorry. If you have any signs of a heart problem, here are some reasons you should never ignore your symptoms and get seen now:
1. Time Matters – Delaying help could result in a more serious problem, permanent damage, and even life-threatening situations. Blocked blood flow to your heart or brain, or an abnormal heartbeat, needs attention immediately.
2. Hospitals are Working to Prevent Coronavirus Exposure – Hospitals and doctors are ready to care for patients who have health problems other than COVID-19 (such as cardiovascular issues). Hospitals are working extremely hard to keep all patients safe through testing and screening of patients and staff, using masks and protective equipment, cleaning and disinfecting, frequent hand-washing, and physical distancing.
It is important to recognize that your fears about going to the hospital during this time are completely legitimate. However, it is also crucial to remember that seeking timely treatment when you have a cardiac issue or concern can make a world of difference. Remember that hospitals are doing everything they can to keep you safe and they are ready to provide care, so don’t neglect any warning signs or emergencies and get seen right away!
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Coronavirus and Cardiovascular Disease: Don’t Ignore Heart Symptoms. (n.d.). Retrieved February 1, 2021, from https://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/health/conditions-and-diseases/coronavirus/dont-ignore-heart-symptoms
Coronavirus heart disease and stroke. (n.d.). Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada. Retrieved February 1, 2021, from https://www.heartandstroke.ca/en/articles/coronavirus-heart-disease-and-stroke/
COVID-19 fears possible reason for “dramatic drop” in cardiac patients seeking care: Doctors. (2020, April 15). CTVNews. https://www.ctvnews.ca/health/covid-19-fears-possible-reason-for-dramatic-drop-in-cardiac-patients-seeking-care-doctors-1.4897720
Signs of a heart attack. (n.d.). Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada. Retrieved February 1, 2021, from https://www.heartandstroke.ca/en/heart-disease/emergency-signs/