LEE COUNTY, Fla. — COVID-19 is now a top 10 leading cause of death in the U.S. Doctors with the American Heart Association say fear of catching the disease may be keeping heart patients away from hospitals.
Dr. Mariell Jessup, Chief Science and Medical Officer with AHA talked to reporters during a zoom conference Thursday about doctors noticing less patients coming in for heart attacks.
“The numbers are down at least 50% in most places that are noticing this,” said Jessup.
She says the decline in reported attacks leads to more questions than answers.
“Are they really not having heart attacks? Are they really not having strokes? Or are they waiting so long to call or to go into the hospital?” she asked.
The AHA shared COVID-19 is now the ninth leading cause of death in the U.S.
Dr. Jessup says the reason why older people and heart disease patients are more at risk is because their hearts are more stiff, which leads to lung complications.
“The blood or the volume inside the heart is going to be under high pressure,” said Jessup.
The AHA’s Chief Medical Officer Dr. Eduardo Sanchez added drugs like hydroxychloroquine and azithromycin which doctors are prescribing to treat COVID-19 symptoms can interact with some heart medications.
He said it could cause arrythmia and an increased risk of sudden death. All the more reason he says to study these medications more thoroughly.
“The importance of a larger clinical trial as opposed to looking at what happens to 40 or so patients, is that it may take a large study to actually see these rare events, but when they happen enough, they become reasons why we should be very cautious,” he said.
Dr. Sanchez recommends heart patients continue exercise and notify doctors if any of their daily activity causes them more shortness of breath than usual.