In the early days of the pandemic, the majority of the countries had imposed strict lockdowns along with a stay at home policies. Since the number of new cases increased at an alarming rate around the world, most hospitals had focused primarily on accomodating coronavirus patients. This resulted in a rise in many of the other health complications as well.
Since there was a general lack of space along with a shortage of PPE or personal protective equipment, surgeries, and medical procedures were overlooked. As days passed by, health experts urged people to not delay important medical appointments or processes. However, due to the fear of catching the infection, many continued to avoid going to doctors and hospitals.
Consequently, several diseases were re-emerging by the end of summer last year especially in children as they had missed important vaccinations. Additionally, people with health conditions such as diabetes also experienced multiple complications.
Another significant outcome of the pandemic, as highlighted by a new report, was the rise in heart-related conditions.
The findings, which appear in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology, show that the diagnosis of heart disease decreased since the start of the pandemic. Emergency cases of cardiovascular events such as heart attack particularly went down.
At the same time, the researchers also found that mortality rates in heart patients increased, specifically due to ischemic heart disease. In the regions which were hardest-hit by the pandemic, the number of deaths was the highest.
For instance, New York City had the highest mortality rates with an increase of one hundred and thirty-nine percent. Along with ischemic heart disease, there was also a one hundred and sixty-three percent increase in hypertensive disease.
Additionally, the rest of the overall state including Illinois, New Jersey, and Michigan also experienced an increase in cardiovascular deaths.
According to the study, the lack of cardiovascular cases and the increase in related deaths was primarily because of people not seeking emergency care. Even though there was an emphasis on visiting hospitals for chronic diseases and conditions, many people continue to delay important appointments.
Prior to this study, another research on hospitalizations and emergency care trends for cardiovascular disease also gave a similar conclusion. After analyzing data on heart diseases, the researchers found that there was a fifty-eight percent reduction in hospital admissions for cardiovascular conditions.
This does not mean that there was a reduction in cardiovascular diseases but that people were staying at home and avoiding going to the hospitals and specifically emergency rooms. As a consequence, they also did not get treatment on time, which, in turn, increased deaths due to heart disease.
The changes in hospitals and prioritizing coronavirus patients was a necessity that was required at the start of the pandemic. Such events are expected during outbreaks and may also be needed in case there is a similar situation in the future. However, this does not mean emergency care should not be sought and hospitals should be completely avoided.
While it is true that guidelines for prevention include staying at home, medical appointments, vaccinations, and procedures are an exception. People can go to a doctor in case of a health emergency even during a global pandemic.