Heart attack patients are avoiding emergency rooms due to COVID-19: report

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People experiencing cardiovascular emergencies seem to be avoiding hospital emergency rooms due to fears of COVID-19, putting their health at risk, according to a new report.

Data compiled by Heart and Stroke and the Canadian Cardiovascular Society found that visits to Ontario emergency departments for ST-Elevation Myocardial Infarctions (STEMI) — a very serious type of heart attack — fell by nearly 30 per cent in the period between March 16 and April 12, compared to the same period a year earlier.

Similar numbers from Vancouver Coastal Health show a 40 per cent drop in STEMI patients over the same time last year.

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“This last weekend was a good example,” said Dr. Andrew Krahn, a cardiologist and president of the Canadian Cardiovascular Society.

“In downtown Vancouver, there’s an on-call group that looks after acute heart attacks. And they for one weekend actually had none, which was the first time in 11 years.”

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According to data from the Canadian Institute for Health Information, there were 26,950 emergency department visits for heart attacks in the 2018-19 fiscal year, corresponding to an average of about 74 visits per day across Canada.

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