Whether for fear of getting infected, because symptoms are misinterpreted or because no one is allowed to visit them: Corona currently discourages many people from calling the doctor or going to the hospital - even if it is an emergency. A mistake that can have fatal consequences.
The same news comes from many countries: Doctors and hospitals report drastically falling numbers in emergency medicine.1 However, experts suspect that it is not the number of emergencies that have decreased, but that patients are reluctant to seek treatment due to the corona pandemic.
People with heart diseases belong to the COVID-19 risk group. Assuming that the current situation also increases the stress level of many people, one could expect that the emergency rooms have an increased number of strokes and heart attacks. But the opposite is the case: A real-time data analysis by the Minneapolis Heart Institute Foundation (MHIF) in April, for example, showed that there were around 38 percent fewer standard treatments for severe heart attacks in the United States during the COVID-19 pandemic.2 Similar figures were reported from Spain and France. Social distancing and the fear of infection with COVID-19 is, experts suspect, a reason that prevents patients from going to hospital.
But one thing is certain: in the case of a stroke and heart attack, every minute counts. They are a case for the emergency doctor and must be treated immediately, as otherwise serious consequences such as cardiac muscle weakness, cardiac arrhythmias, or paralysis can occur and can also lead to death.
Because of their disease, cancer patients also belong to the Covid-19 risk group. Understandably, many of them are afraid of getting infected in the hospital or doctor's office. However, experts strongly advise against simply suspending or postponing therapies without consulting the doctor in charge. Under certain circumstances, tumors continue to grow or form metastases and are later difficult or impossible to treat.
If you have problems in making final decision about your anticancer therapy, talk to your doctor about the effects of the coronavirus outbreak on your treatment plan. Your medical oncologist will know your individual situation the best. Doctors will work with you to find the best treatment options for you.
Cancer experts also have concerns that some cancer cases will be identified too late as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, because at the moment many people are missing their appointments for routine screening and early diagnosis. Therefore, they appeal – wherever possible - to visit doctors and hospitals and keep routine health appointments also during the COVID-19 pandemic.