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Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 4 March 2021

Heart attack victims afraid of going to hospital during UK lockdown

Data shows steep drop in number of patients seeking medical help for cardiovascular illness

Fewer patients suffering from heart attacks are being admitted to hospital during the UK lockdown. EPA
Fewer patients suffering from heart attacks are being admitted to hospital during the UK lockdown. EPA

Heart attack victims are choosing not to go to hospital while the UK is in lockdown despite being in an emergency situation, doctors said on Tuesday.

An analysis of patient data carried out by University of Leeds researchers showed that the start of England’s second lockdown in November coincided with a sharp drop of people admitted to hospital with heart failure or a heart attack.

The statistics showed 41 per cent fewer people were attending hospital with heart failure and 34 per cent with a heart attack compared with pre-pandemic levels.

The decline in hospital admissions among heart patients is similar to the drop recorded during the first lockdown that began in March 2020.

Researchers estimated the failure to seek medical help for cardiovascular emergencies during the first lockdown contributed to more than 2,000 excess deaths – or fatalities that exceed the normal rate – in England and Wales.

Scientists said the findings showed people were “fearful” of going to hospital while the Covid pandemic rages.

They said: “The second dip appears of similar magnitude to that of the first, and signals that the public are fearful of attending hospital despite having medical emergencies.”

Prof Chris Gale from the University of Leeds said the decline in people seeking medical help for cardiovascular illnesses would lead to more preventable deaths.

“These are unforgiving medical emergencies,” he said. “With the right help, people can recover … but if patients delay or avoid treatment, they will suffer life-limiting complications – or they will die.”

Dr Jianhua Wu, who led the analysis, said: “One of the worrying aspects of our research is that the decline we have seen since October may not have yet bottomed out. Inevitably, there is a fear that will result in deaths that perhaps could have been avoided.” 

The findings submitted to the Journal of the American College of Cardiology showed that hospital admissions returned to near-normal levels when Covid-19 infections are in retreat.

Hospital admissions for heart failure and heart attack returned to 95 per cent and 93 per cent of normal admissions in June, the data showed, when the Covid infection rate in the UK was low.

In pictures - coronavirus in the UK

Published: January 19, 2021 11:10 PM

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