Calling 911 During The Pandemic

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Hospitals are reporting far fewer people with heart attack and stroke symptoms are going to the ER during this ongoing Covid-19 pandemic. While this sounds like good news, it’s likely not. The medical community is worried that people are afraid to call 911 or visit a hospital, and are ignoring or ‘riding out’ cardiac symptoms. Which is dangerous—it’s exactly the wrong thing to do.

Across the country, hospitals have taken measures to ensure ‘traditional’ emergency patients are not exposed to coronavirus. Even so, doctors are worried people are experiencing heart attack and stroke symptoms are not calling 911 or going to the hospital. Delaying treatment can significantly increase the risk of death. Time is critical for cardiac and stroke, and if you having symptoms, you need to call 911, even during this pandemic.

In Hospitals Report Fewer Heart Attacks and Strokes Amid COVID-19, Dr. Charles Matouk, chief of neurovascular surgery at Yale Medicine said,

“The sooner you are evaluated and treated, the greater your odds that what could be a major stroke will be a less serious one from which you’ll be able to have a better recovery.

Stroke symptoms that should not be ignored, Dr. Matouk adds, include weakness on one side of the body, such as in a leg or an arm, a droopy face, blindness in one eye, or having trouble speaking or understanding what people are saying to you.”

And Dr. Eric Velazquez, chief of cardiovascular medicine for Yale Medicine said,

“In the flurry of worrying about COVID-19, people may have forgotten or not realize that there are reversible conditions that require urgent attention. No one needs to suffer in silence at home and miss out on life-benefiting treatment.”

The American Heart Association put it more bluntly.  The New Pandemic Threat: People May DIE Because They’re Not Calling 911. In this article, the AHA states:

“Calling 911 immediately is still your best chance of surviving or saving a life. It is SAFE for EVERYONE to call 911. It is SAFE for ANYONE to go to the hospital.

Because some racial/ethnic groups, such as African Americans, are more likely to die from their heart attack and stroke, it is imperative that nothing gets in the way of anyone seeking help if they are experiencing symptoms.”

Heart Attack Symptoms in Men and WomenHow do you know if you should call 911? In Heart Attack Symptoms in Women and Men, I describe symptoms in detail. Here’s a summary, and a video as well.

Heart Attack Warning Signs (from the AHA) – CALL 911 if you have these symptoms, even now, during COVID-19:

  • chest discomfort
  • discomfort in other areas of the body such as your arms, back, neck, jaw or stomach
  • shortness of breath
  • Other possible signs: breaking out in a cold sweat, nausea or lightheadedness

For STROKE, the AHA says: If you have stroke symptoms, which can be remembered with the acronym FAST: Face drooping, Arm weakness, Speech slurring or other difficulty, then it’s Time to call 911.

And here’s a 3 minute video directed by and starring Elizabeth Banks about a woman who doesn’t want to bother anyone and just carries on even though she has heart attack symptoms.



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