SSM Health Medical Minute – Cardiac deaths on the rise during COVID

Medical Minute

ST. LOUIS – Around the world, cardiac deaths are seeing a sharp uptick amid the COVID-19 pandemic and cardiologists are working to educate heart patients with information that can help them contribute to the death rate. 

What is still unknown, however, is how much to blame COVID-19 is for the rise in cardiac arrests.

Dr. Georges Chahoud, a cardiologist from SSM Health St. Joseph Hospital in Lake St. Louis, says there is reason to believe that during quarantine, there was a fear of coming to the hospital or calling 911.  But now he is working along with his peers to get the message out to the public that they can’t postpone a heart attack until COVID-19 disappears and that hospitals can safely handle emergencies.

Many patients with cardiovascular disease delayed care and, by the time they come to the hospital, they are much more advanced in their disease and therefore at much more risk of dying. The rise in cardiac deaths seem to happen out of the hospital, meaning the patient chose not to call for an emergency, or when they called for emergency help, their situation was dire. 

Locally, Dr. George noticed up to a 50 percent decline in cardiac patients in the hospital during the quarantine. In New York, during the peak of COVID-19, up to 90 percent of patients with heart conditions died. 

“We know from our data, the only treatment that can support patients in cardiac arrest is immediate intervention from the cath lab inside the hospital to open up their block arteries,” Chahoud said. “The longer they wait, the higher the chance they may have mechanical complications or cardiogenic shock.”

Dr. Chahoud says the message he wants to get out is, “If you have a heart conditions or symptoms suggesting of a heart attack or stroke, don’t wait. Call 911 and get to the hospital right away.”

To find out more about heart and vascular health or to take a heart assessment, click here.

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