Heart disease and stroke patients postponing medical care or diagnostic procedures can have detrimental effects on their health, says American Heart Association-Dallas Division Board of Director President Dr. Sunita Koshy-Nesbitt, who emphasizes how heart attack and stroke are always emergencies.
“Procedures for heart attack and stroke are still emergencies because they can benefit the patient immediately, so generally, in medicine, if we can delay the procedure, it won’t change the outcome for the patient,” Koshy-Nesbitt said.
Hospitals are following safety protocols to sanitize, adhering to social distancing guidelines, and separating people with COVID-19 and those without. Many hospitals have designated emergency rooms, operating rooms, cardiac catheterization rooms, and intensive care units for people who are diagnosed with COVID-19.
“The public – especially those with heart disease, or at risk for heart disease or stroke – need to understand that it’s imperative that they call 911 or seek medical help, if needed,” Koshy-Nesbitt said.
The assistant professor of internal medicine at UT Southwestern Medical Center stresses the importance of remaining cautious when going to the doctor for non-emergencies. People who have survived strokes or those with congenital heart defects might pose a higher risk for serious complications if they contract COVID-19.
“These patients who are susceptible to heart attacks or strokes are actually susceptible to COVID-19 as well, so really, people who have heart conditions, diabetes, [and] high blood pressure are at risk for more serious complications of COVID-19,” Koshy-Nesbitt said.
Koshy-Nesbitt expresses how cardiovascular patients can experience serious consequences as a result of postponing treatments and/or diagnoses. “If you’re having chest pains or signs and symptoms of cardiovascular disease or stroke, you’ve got to be seen because all of those disease patterns were there pre- and will be there post-COVID, so in the midst of the pandemic, we have to actually be extra vigilant with this population,” Koshy-Nesbitt said.