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Coronavirus fears are preventing people from seeking medical care, doctor says

Posted at 11:00 AM, Apr 14, 2020
and last updated 2020-04-14 17:34:32-04

DELRAY BEACH, Fla. — The coronavirus is most certainly the top story around the world right now.

Unfortunately, though, that does not mean other big medical issues, like heart disease, disappear. But doctors are worried that’s the picture being painted.

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COVID-19 has flooded hospitals, emergency services, and the minds of everyone. But fear might be the worst side effect.

"Just the way you would have gone to the ER, just the way you would call 911 on any other given day, do that please. Because time is muscle. Time is brain if you’re having a heart attack or a stroke. Those things are still very important," said Dr. Brijeshwar Maini, an interventional cardiologist with Tenet Healthcare System’s Delray Medical Center.

Dr. Maini said he has seen a 40 to 60 percent drop in patients coming in. He attributes it to patients worried that they could contract COVID-19 if they have to go to the hospital.

n New York, doctors are reporting an 800 percent increase of cardiac deaths at home. According to FDNY, on an average day before this pandemic, 20 to 30 people died per day at home. The fire department is now reporting over 200 daily.

"I think it’s the fear factor [combined] with the fact that maybe this will go away. Maybe I’m not having a heart attack. And the denial part kicks in. It’s human nature to do that," said Dr. Maini. "I would not shy away from seeking medical care just because you are concerned that you may wind up getting something that you don’t have at this point."

Like Dr. Maini, most physicians are offering telemedicine right now, making them perhaps even more accessible to evaluate you faster than ever before.

Maini said reaching out with any concerns won’t increase the chance of you having to break your self-isolation for care, but it could actually keep you healthy at home.

For example, there are things out there like the "vital patch" that can be prescribed allowing for you to be monitored at home.

"We know what your heart rate is, what your EKG looks like, what your pulse is. If you fall down, you’re almost about to fall down. It’s almost like you’re in the hospital. Somebody is watching over you. No, you cannot do this for the rest of your life, but in certain situations it’s an option," said Dr. Maini.

In this uncertain time, Dr. Maini reminds everyone that the hospitals are prepared to keep patients safe. He says non-coronavirus cases are treated on separate floors with a different set of medical professionals caring for them.

"We are still here. We are still taking care of patients. The other diseases have not gone away. They’re not going away, unfortunately," said Dr. Maini.