Is Covid-19 scaring heart attack victims away from ERs?

Scientists hope monoclonal antibodies from plasma will be an effective treatment in the fight against Covid-19. CNN's Elizabeth Cohen has more.

Posted: May 7, 2020 4:41 AM
Updated: May 7, 2020 4:41 AM

Fewer heart attack and stroke patients are arriving at hospital emergency departments and doctors still aren't sure why.

The American Heart Association continues to urge people to call 911 if they experience any chest pain or heart symptoms.

In April, the group and other medical organizations put out an urgent statement telling the public not hesitate to go to the hospital or call 911 in case of a medical emergency, even amid the coronavirus pandemic.

"We know conclusively that every moment delay in getting the right treatment for a heart attack or the right treatment of a stroke results in less heart muscle and less brain," Dr. Mariell Jessup, chief science and medical officer of the American Heart Association, told CNN on Wednesday.

"Studies have shown the faster you can open up the artery that supplies the brain with blood, or the heart with blood, the better chance you have of preserving your heart function and your brain function."

The Heart Association's guideline advisory group said on May 2 that patient calls to 911 have fallen by about a third since January.

People hunkering down

Two factors could be at play, said Brooks Gump, the Falk Family Endowed Professor of Public Health at Syracuse University in New York. "It's possible that because people are hunkered down and not going to work that they are experiencing less triggers for cardiac events," Gump told CNN on Wednesday.

"But that doesn't mean their disease is going away," he said. "The risk is that when we start to emerge again and go back to work we'll have those triggers again, and you'll have an uptick."

More likely: "People are avoiding the emergency rooms," Gump said. "I just don't know which proportion is which."

What's clear, said Gump, is that the risk factors underlying heart disease in the US have not gone away.

"I don't think it's the case that anything that people are doing right now is dramatically altering the actual development of cardiovascular disease, unless they develop bad habits -- such as a sedentary lifestyle, that continues for years" Gump said. "Heart disease develops slowly over time -- like 20 to 30 years of time -- and then a trigger produces a cardiac event."

Dr. Valentin Fuster, director of Mount Sinai Heart and physician-in-chief of The Mount Sinai Hospital, told CNN he thinks it's a combination of people not going to the hospital, and people actually having fewer heart events.

"Across the world, it has been noticed that people with cardiovascular disease, and in particular with myocardial infarctions (heart attacks), they don't show up. It's a significant decrease," said Fuster, a former president of the American Heart Association.

Stress is a possible factor, he said.

"Maybe people are less stressed out. Maybe at home they are more relaxed. Maybe they are eating better," Fuster said, adding that lower pollution levels may also be a factor. But he thinks people are also afraid to call 911.

"I think it is a combination of both. I don't think it is one versus the other," Fuster said.

Indiana Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 608519

Reported Deaths: 9693
CountyCasesDeaths
Marion840461335
Lake45349684
Allen32803548
Hamilton29394315
St. Joseph27380381
Elkhart24404345
Vanderburgh19411249
Tippecanoe17970138
Johnson15069295
Porter14783169
Hendricks14401248
Madison10965221
Vigo10726181
Clark10677144
Monroe9383110
Delaware9116134
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Kosciusko806983
Warrick672999
Hancock6697104
Bartholomew6484100
Floyd6428110
Wayne6136162
Grant5991115
Dubois555579
Boone551168
Morgan541295
Henry507864
Marshall503984
Cass483263
Dearborn479845
Noble473059
Jackson425047
Shelby417581
Lawrence391079
Clinton373043
Gibson370359
Harrison348144
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Montgomery345754
Knox335639
Miami321444
Steuben313745
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Brown88035
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Martin73713
Warren6817
Switzerland6615
Union6287
Ohio4907
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Ohio Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 859841

Reported Deaths: 10680
CountyCasesDeaths
Franklin101171707
Cuyahoga855711125
Hamilton64017448
Montgomery43107418
Summit34836761
Lucas31350625
Butler30973232
Stark25786435
Warren19671140
Lorain19017223
Mahoning17321338
Lake16080154
Clermont15926111
Delaware1438878
Licking13204137
Trumbull12809316
Fairfield1279381
Greene12055137
Medina11591168
Clark10942265
Wood10348158
Allen9897126
Portage9296109
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Richland9139118
Marion7459113
Tuscarawas7381182
Columbiana7327124
Pickaway726150
Wayne7034171
Muskingum703141
Erie6152129
Hancock552390
Ross548998
Scioto539164
Geauga508455
Darke470292
Ashtabula453073
Lawrence452654
Union451828
Sandusky436662
Mercer433589
Seneca430166
Huron428741
Auglaize422264
Shelby421222
Jefferson419269
Belmont416840
Washington388740
Athens38009
Putnam374975
Madison355129
Knox352622
Ashland344938
Fulton338443
Defiance330086
Crawford322374
Preble320637
Brown312921
Logan307332
Ottawa293943
Clinton290143
Williams278667
Highland275118
Jackson263845
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Morrow23234
Perry231318
Holmes225474
Henry218749
Hardin213033
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Van Wert202245
Gallia196726
Wyandot196051
Pike176217
Adams176115
Hocking172024
Carroll155616
Paulding144321
Noble120540
Meigs108624
Monroe100732
Harrison89121
Morgan83130
Vinton70213
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