Heart experts worry decrease in heart attack patients is due to COVID-19 fears

MEDFORD, Ore. — Heart attacks substantially decreased during the pandemic but had a higher risk of death, according to a recent Providence St. Josephine Health study.

Providence analyzed heart attack patients from 49 of its hospitals in six states, including Providence Medford Medical Center. The study showed data from 14,000 patients showed hospitalizations decreased around February 23. Around the fifth week of the pandemic, hospitals saw 109 fewer patients admitted.

Heart experts with Providence worry patients are delaying care due to COVID-19 fears, which they said is more dangerous.

“While social distancing is still recommended, medical distancing is not,” said cardiologist Ty Gluckman M.D., medical director of the Center for Cardiovascular Analytics Research and Data Science (CARDS) within Providence Heart Insitute. “Hospitals are safe places for people to get that emergency care.”

The study has found the outcomes of heart attack patients were not as good. The relative death rate of patients following a STEMI, the most serious form of heart attack, was 50 percent higher.

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