Recent research by Oxford University has shown that 5,000 people missed out on heart attack treatment from the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic.
By the end of March, the number of hospital admissions with heart attacks fell by 35%. The number of people attending hospital for the most dangerous form of heart attack, where a blockage cuts off an artery’s supply of blood to the heart, fell by a quarter. There was a 42% reduction in attendance for people suffering from a less severe form of heart attack where a partial blockage impedes blood supply to the heart.
Greater risk of dying from their heart attack than catching the virus
Doctors are warning that failure to seek treatment for fear of infection is a major cause of risk to patients. "Some people may still be worried about going to hospital because they fear encountering the coronavirus. But the truth is that, by delaying or not going to hospital, people with heart attacks are at much greater risk of dying from their heart attack than catching the virus, and the NHS is ready and able to provide excellent cardiological care," said Colin Baigent, a medic working for Oxford University.
The research was carried out by Oxford in association with researchers from a number of other universities and NHS organisations. It shows that admission rates are now recovering but remain lower than expected. Prof Barbara Casadei (pictured above), Professor of cardiovascular medicine working for Oxford University, said, "These findings must be taken into serious consideration in the event that a second pandemic wave develops as lockdown restrictions are eased worldwide." She goes on to say, "Medical societies, heart foundations, and governments have a responsibility to not only inform patients of the importance of seeking appropriate care, but also to ensure that a safe environment is provided for patients who are admitted to hospital because of a cardiovascular emergency."
What about the asymptomatic and uninfected!?
This research has highlighted one way in which the COVID-19 outbreak has made life harder for people not directly affected by it. More research is clearly needed to seek out other ways in which the pandemic is impacting the health and quality of life of the uninfected.