House Call: How COVID-19 is Reducing Emergency Cardiac Cases

April 11, 2020
Kevin Kunzmann

A discussion with Paul W. Armstrong of the University of Alberta, on the pandemic's effect on common ICU conditions.

On Friday, the rate of New York City-based hospitalizations were reported to be a new low during the time of the coronavirus 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic. Though it’s a sign for optimism, some clinicians have challenged the specifics of such reports.

Namely, is everyone in need of emergency care currently seeking it? There’s reason to doubt they are.

In an interview with HCPLive®, Paul W. Armstrong, MD, distinguished university professor in the Department of Medicine at the University of Alberta, discussed the current state of his home country Canada during COVID-19.

Armstrong also discussed cardiovascular-risk patients—those who have suffered myocardial infarction, stroke, and other major events—and their anticipated reticence to seek ICU or hospital care during the pandemic.

How this affects patients in the immediacy of their cardiovascular event is more obvious than the trouble it could spell for them days, weeks, and months after social distancing has resided.

“I think (it’s about) getting the message out that hospitals are prepared and concerned about it,” Armstrong said. “There’s an old adage that time is muscle, and muscle is life. If you’re having a heart attack, the longer you wait, the more likely you’re getting myocardial damage—and the likelihood is that you’re getting heart dysfunction, heart failure, or loss of life.”