People suffering life-long disabilities after not seeking help for heart attack and stroke

Doctors are alarmed that many people are not going to the emergency room to get important medical care, because they're afraid of catching COVID-19. We spoke with a specialist from Houston Methodist Hospital who urges you to seek help immediately, if you or a loved one suffers from any symptoms of a stroke or heart attack.

"Forty percent of patients are no longer coming in, so it is concerning. There's more than one reason, but the one thing we're worried about, patients are staying home because they're worried about catching COVID-19 from the hospital," states Dr. Apoor Patel, the Director of Electrophysiology at Houston Methodist Hospital Sugar Land.  

Statistics show that someone has a stroke and heart attack every forty seconds. They're typically seen in ER's, but not right now.

"Those strokes and heart attacks are still happening, but people are ignoring symptoms. They don't want to come to the hospital, but time is of the essence. They're time sensitive. You need to get help immediately. You have minutes or hours to get a stent or bloodclot busting medications or be permanently disabled or even pass away. They really have to get immediate care," urges Dr. Patel. 

He goes on to say, "If you're experiencing symptoms that are consistent with heart attack or stroke, please get immediate care. Hospitals are doing everything they can to make it safe for you. I know you're worried, but know that COVID patients are put in a different part of hospital. All hospital workers are wearing masks, and they already did that before. Equipment is thoroughly cleaned and sterilized. Know that dying of a heart attack or stroke is worse or permanently disabled is worse than getting COVID," states Dr. Patel.

Dr. Patel wants you to recognize these symptoms: 

"FAST" for stroke: 

F is for facial droops or changes in the face

A is for arm or leg weakness

S is slurred speech

T is time to call 911, if you experience those other symptoms.  

For heart attack: The most common symptom is chest pain or discomfort, which often gets worse with exertion. You can also can have jaw or arm pain, back or stomach pain, or problems breathing.  All of those would also mean it's time to call 911.

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