Croí, the Galway-based Heart & Stroke Charity has launched a new campaign that aims to save lives by encouraging people with symptoms of heart attack or stroke to seek medical help without delay.
One of the big concerns among doctors and charities in the healthcare system in recent months has been that COVID-19 has been keeping people away from the doctor, either out of fear of catching the virus, or a desire to not burden the medical system.
But with either a heart attack or stroke, seconds and minutes can be the difference between life and death, or lifelong damage to the heart or brain.
The #JustGo initiative reaffirms medical advice to always act quickly, noting that ‘Time is muscle’, and the longer you wait, the worse the damage will be.
“It’s one of the unintended consequences of COVID-19 that people suffering heart attacks and strokes are delaying in seeking medical help, resulting in worse outcomes.
“Also, people living with known heart conditions who are experiencing new or worsening symptoms are delaying too long before calling their doctor or going to hospital,” says Neil Johnson, CEO of Croí.
If you have chest pain or other heart attack symptoms – such as pain in the throat, neck, back, stomach or shoulders that lasts for more than 15 minutes – you must call an ambulance.
Equally, if you are living with an existing heart condition such as heart failure or heart valve disease and if you are experiencing new symptoms, or a worsening of symptoms, you should contact your doctor or go to a hospital as soon as possible.
Professor Jim Crowley, Consultant Cardiologist at Galway University Hospitals said there has been up to an 80% decrease in cardiac admissions to hospital lately, and a 35% drop in surgical and other interventions in hospital.
“This is very worrying as we know cardiovascular disease has not gone away and the prospect of a surge of patients with advanced cardiac symptoms in the coming weeks and months as an indirect consequence of COVID-19 is concerning.”
The #JustGo Campaign hopes to reassure peoplethat the risk of coronavirus infection in hospital has been minimised for patients being admitted with heart attacks or strokes.
The campaign also reaffirms that the risk of dying from an untreated heart attack is 10 times higher than dying from COVID-19.