Doctors fear heart attack, stroke going untreated during pandemic

Doctors in eastern Iowa are concerned that the pandemic may be discouraging people from getting emergency care.
Published: Oct. 26, 2020 at 10:14 PM CDT
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CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa (KCRG) - Doctors in eastern Iowa are concerned that the ongoing novel coronavirus pandemic may be preventing people from seeking emergency care, especially in the case of heart attack or stroke.

Officials at UnityPoint Health-St. Luke’s Hospital, in Cedar Rapids, said they saw a large drop in emergency room visits early in the pandemic. The numbers have since improved, but some people are still avoiding the emergency department out of fear of contracting the virus.

Doctors said delaying care when experiencing the signs and symptoms of a heart attack or stroke could be deadly.

“We certainly saw that here. That there was a significant decline in the number of cases coming quickly to the hospital for heart attack care," Dr. Richard Kettelkamp, a cardiologist with UnityPoint Health, said. "These patients would then show up, if they showed up, maybe a week later or 10 days later and they’d be in heart failure or in some form of duress.”

Kettelkamp will share his concerns about heart health in the pandemic during the annual Go Red for Women Cedar Rapids luncheon, which will be virtual this year, on November 6.

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