Is Fear of COVID-19 Keeping Stroke and Heart Attack Patients from Seeking Care?

Due to the widespread threat of the coronavirus (COVID-19), many patients who need life-saving care may not be seeking the help they need when every minute counts. If you are experiencing symptoms of stroke or heart attack, you are encouraged to call 911 or have someone bring you to the nearest emergency room.

“At Wadley Regional Medical Center, we are taking every precaution to keep everyone safe at this time. We are screening all individuals coming into our emergency room including patients, employees and physicians,” explains Jeff Wright, Emergency Department Director. “For patients exhibiting signs of COVID-19, we have a video intercom located near the ER entrance to use and our staff will meet them outside to screen and mask. They are then taken to an isolation room for further screening and testing.”

It is important to pay attention to your body at this time of heightened stress and remember the signs and symptoms of heart attack or stroke. Waiting could have long term effects on your health. Minutes matter when it comes to getting medical help if you are having a heart attack or a stroke. Your heart is a muscle, hence the term, time is muscle, which means the sooner you get to help, the better you can protect your heart muscle from damage. When it comes to having a stroke (also now called a brain attack), the term used is, time is brain. “Just like a heart attack, how soon you get medical help can be the difference between life and death and/or your future quality of life because of permanent deficits,” says Stroke and Chest Pain Program Director, Sher Fomby, NP. According to the American Heart Association, most heart damage occurs within the first two hours of a heart attack.

For signs and symptoms of stroke, you are encouraged to remember “BE FAST”:

B – Balance: Watch for sudden loss of balance E – Eyes: Check for vision loss
F – Face: Look for an uneven smiles
A – Arm: Check if one arm is weak
S – Speech: Listen for slurred speech
T – Time: Call 911 right away

Any one of these sudden signs could indicate a stroke.
For heart attacks, symptoms could include chest discomfort, shortness of breath, pain in one or both arms, and nausea. As with men, women’s most common heart attack symptom is chest pain (angina) or discomfort. But women are somewhat more likely than men to experience some of the other common symptoms, particularly shortness of breath, nausea/vomiting, and back or jaw pain.

Common heart attack signs and symptoms include:

• Pressure, tightness, pain, or a squeezing or aching sensation in your chest or arms that may spread to your neck, jaw or back
• Nausea, indigestion, heartburn or abdominal pain
• Shortness of breath
• Cold sweat
• Fatigue
• Light headedness or sudden dizziness

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