COVID-19: Are acute stroke patients avoiding emergency care?


Fear Factor?

The reasons individuals who may have experienced a stroke are avoiding emergency care is unclear at the moment. “I’m not really sure anyone really understands why, quite honestly,” Tirschwell said.

Until survey data or other data emerge, many experts are assuming that fear of COVID-19 is trumping other medical concerns, including emergency treatment of stroke.

“We believe this could represent patients being fearful to come to medical facilities with stroke-like symptoms, given the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Sacco, who is also incoming editor-in-chief of Stroke.

The BBC has been getting the word out in the United Kingdom via social media, with a tweet to “Dial 999 for stroke emergencies despite coronavirus.”

The World Stroke Campaign is also using Twitter to emphasize the need for urgent stroke care when appropriate:

“Don’t let concerns about COVID19 prevent you from seeking emergency treatment for stroke. If you spot the signs of stroke act FAST. Get emergency medical assistance,” the group urged in a tweet.

Don’t Hesitate

The American Heart Association (AHA) has addressed this troubling trend as well.

“People with serious symptoms shouldn’t ignore them,” Sarah Perlman, MD, associate professor of emergency medicine at the University of Colorado School of Medicine, Denver, states in an article on the AHA website.

Perlman added that some individuals who have signs of stroke and heart disease may hesitate to seek care because of fear that they are adding to an overburdened healthcare staff and system. However, she dismissed those concerns outright.

“If you’re experiencing warning signs of a heart attack or stroke, call 911,” she said. “Clearly, if there’s an emergency, we are available and capable and eager to take care of you.”

This article first appeared on Medscape.com.


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