Many patients have been delaying hospital treatment after suffering a heart attack due to fear of Covid infection, and therefore having a complicated course of recovery
BENGALURU / Sept 28, 2020 – Doctors have reported a 30 percent surge in cases of heart attacks in Bengaluru in the last two months, possibly related to factors like mental stress, economic difficulties, a sedentary lifestyle and bad diet imposed by the lockdown. Many heart attack victims have also been delaying coming to a hospital due to fear of Covid infection and therefore having a complicated course of recovery because of lack of timely treatment, said Dr. Sreekanth Shetty, Head – Interventional Cardiology, Sakra World Hospital.
Dr. Sreekanth Shetty said: “In the first few month of the lockdown, there was a drastic fall in the number of heart attack patients. There were many reasons for this, like reduced stress levels due to staying at home and getting more rest and heart attack victims not coming to hospitals for treatment due to Covid fears. Lack of prompt care saw a spike in sudden deaths at home. However, the wheel has turned full circle. As levels of mental stress, frustration and insecurities among people rise due to financial anxiety, job losses, salary cuts, unregulated working hours, etc., we are now witnessing a surge in heart-attack cases in the late phase of the pandemic. This is due to the pandemic induced stress on people.”
He added: “At Sakra hospital, we have experienced a disproportionate rise in heart attack hospitalizations. In fact, there has been a 30 percent increase in the number of heart attack patients coming for treatment in the months of August and September, compared to the same period last year. While heart patients are still shying away from elective procedures, admissions in emergency ward have risen for heart attacks.”
Dr. Shetty said: “Patients with pre-existing heart disease are at the highest risk of mortality due to Covid infection. It has been seen to affect the heart in various ways. One, when the lung is severely affected, extremely low oxygen levels depress functioning of the heart. Two, the virus can cause low blood pressure which in turn can also affect the heart. Third, the virus can trigger a severe inflammatory response which also involves the heart. Fourth, Covid can cause clotting in the arteries and veins of the body, leading to heart attacks, brain strokes, limb gangrene, deep vein thrombosis and pulmonary embolism. Covid can also directly affect the heart, causing myocarditis, a potentially life-threatening condition. Also, certain types of heart arrhythmias are seen to happen in Covid patients which can cause death. Worse, Covid can affect the heart in patients with no prior cardiovascular problems and they can face the same complications.”
“Due to fear of the infection, many heart patients have restricted themselves from coming for their scheduled hospital visits. Some have availed of video consultations to take guidance. Fortunately, most patients are conscious of the need to continue their medications and we have not come across any heart patient defaulting on medication during the pandemic. Also, availability of medicines has not been a problem in this period,” said Dr. Shetty.
He added: “There are many things that people with heart condition can do to limit their risk of infection. Avoid people who are sick and keep a two-meter distance from other individuals, wherever possible. Wash hands thoroughly with soap and warm water for at least 20 seconds. Wear appropriate masks but avoid those with a valve. Stay at home as much as possible and work from home if feasible. Continue to take prescription medications without fail, including for blood pressure and diabetes. Do not stop blood thinners if you are on them. In case of symptoms suggestive a new cardiac event, visit the hospital without hesitation.”
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