CLEVELAND, Ohio (WOIO) -“We know that we have many patients, staying at home suffering these heart attacks not seeking care,” said University Hospitals Cardiologist, Dr. Greg Stefano.
Throughout this pandemic regular doctor’s visits have been cancelled and patients have been avoiding emergency rooms and calling 911, for fear of being exposed at hospitals.
But that is a dangerous trend for heart patients.
64 year Andrew Gruber didn’t hesitate when he felt symptoms of a heart attack on April 16th.
Muson EMS got to him within about 5 minutes, performed an EKG at the scene, transmitted information to University Hospitals Geauga, and activated their cath lab team.
Within twenty minutes his doctor was working on him on the operating table.
“He told me that if I got there any later, I would have had worse heart damage than I did and I might have not made it. Going there right away saved my life,” he said.
“Right around the middle of March, March 15th we had a big drop in calls. Our call volume pretty much plummeted and we were lucky to one a day at that point,” said Munson Fire Chief Mike Vatty.
The United States is seeing about a 40 percent decrease in cardiac patients through this pandemic.
A lot of them are heart attack patients, who are ignoring minor, so-called warning shots.
UH Cardiologist Dr. Greg Stefano says this is putting patients at unnecessary risk for life-long disabling conditions like heart failure.
“People need to go to the emergency room if they have any kind of medical problems. The fear initially was that emergency room there was a chance that they could catch this there,” said Vatty.
But he says the public needs to know that the emergency rooms are open for business.
“The hospital is a very safe place to be. You cannot have this concept of “I’m worried about going there to contract something. It’s just not correct,” said Dr. Stefano.
“I was pretty nervous because your wife can’t go or none of your family members. They’re not even allowed to visit,” said Gruber.
He admits it wasn’t a normal hospital stay, but he encourages others to act as quickly as he did.