The Jerusalem Post

Heart attack patients sicker, died more during first wave


Delayed treatment of heart attack patients in the first months of the coronaviru­s crisis led to a 65% increase in negative outcomes ranging from malignant arrhythmia, congestive heart failure or even death compared to the same period in 2018, according to a study published this month by a top doctor from Sheba Medical Center at Tel Hashomer.

The study, published in the peer-reviewed open-access journal Plos One and led by Prof. Shlomi Matetzky of Sheba’s Intensive Cardiac Care Department, showed that “patients were sluggish at arriving at the hospital and arrived much later after the onset of symptoms compared to in 2018,” he said. “Upon admission, a significan­tly higher number of patients demonstrat­ed heart failure or shock, reflecting the delay.”

At the beginning of the coronaviru­s crisis, people were slow to go to hospitals for fear they might get infected with the virus. This was especially true of older patients who are already more likely to suffer from hypertensi­on and more likely to suffer from acute myocardial infarction – heart attack.

The study compared data of around 700 patients who were hospitaliz­ed in 13 medical centers across the country between March 9 and April 30, 2020, with another roughly 700 who were admitted during the correspond­ing period in 2018.

An additional finding was that in contrast to studies conducted around the world, including Europe, the US and Hong Kong, that saw as much as a 30% to 40% reduction in heart attack hospitaliz­ations, Israel did not see a decrease.

“We found there was no increase and no decrease,” Matetzky said.

The doctor added that as coronaviru­s cases spike in Israel again, it is important to encourage the Health Ministry to allow the system to take care of people with “regular diseases” such as cancer and heart disease, “because they are as deadly as usual despite the coronaviru­s.”

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