Since the coronavirus pandemic began, fewer heart attack and stroke patients are seeking medical care. Doctors are noticing a drop in patients being admitted to hospitals with cardiovascular symptoms and are wondering why.
Doctors from Cedars-Sinai suggest that during the pandemic, patients are ignoring symptoms that would otherwise bring them to an emergency room. They stress that this is worrying. As they try to figure out what is happening with the stroke and heart attack patients, Dr. Patrick Lyden, a professor of neurology at Cedars-Sinai, wants people to know the signs of a stroke so they know when to seek medical attention.
Know the Signs and Symptoms
Signs of stroke include sudden numbness on one side of the face or body, slurred speech, or the inability to walk in a straight line. A common saying among neurologists is “time is brain,” so the sooner patients get care, the earlier they can be treated and prevent long-term brain damage.
“If you’re having a stroke, you still need to come in, we are still here for you,” Lyden said in a Cedars-Sinai news release. “Time is still brain, and we still have great treatments. We can cure stroke. And we’re here to keep doing that.”
He urges people to remember the acronym BE FAST:
- B—sudden loss of balance
- E—eyes (vision loss)
- F—face drooping
- A—arm weakness
- S—speech difficulty
- T—time to call 911
Dr. Michelle Kittleson, a cardiologist at Cedars-Sinai, emphasizes the importance of also knowing the symptoms of a heart attack. This includes chest discomfort, shortness of breath, palpitations, lightheadedness and fainting spells.
“If you’re feeling these symptoms and you’re not sure whether to go to the ER and risk being exposed to infection versus waiting it out at home, call your doctor,” Kittleson said. “As physicians, we have a lot of great experience in teasing out the details of a patient’s symptoms to triage whether the symptom is dangerous or not.”
During this time, many people may feel weary of going to a hospital or doctor’s office in fear of catching the coronavirus. Doctors are stressing the importance of knowing the signs the heart attack and stroke to be able to gauge if immediate medical attention is needed.
Many doctors are offering virtual appointments and can help those who may be unsure whether to visit a doctor’s office. However, they do stress that if you have the signs of stroke or heart attack, you should seek medical attention and go to a hospital immediately.