- Experts warn that cardiology services have decreased by 40% during the state of alarm
The Covid-19 epidemic and the current state of alarm have led to a very significant decrease in activity in the area of cardiology. This is supported by a survey carried out by the Interventional Cardiology Association of the Spanish Society of Cardiology (SEC) during the first week of confinement.
For the study, a survey was carried out by telephone on 71 Cardiology Units in the 17 autonomous communities, where heart attack procedures are performed.
It made a comparison of figures between the week of February 24 to March 1 (before the start of the pandemic) and that of March 16 to 22 (during the pandemic), which showed a 57% reduction in the performance of diagnostic tests, 48% fewer coronary therapeutic procedures, an 81% reduction in structural procedure interventions, and a 40% decrease primary angioplasties performed in cases of acute myocardial infarction (AMI).
The report also states that the Covid-19 infection has been diagnosed in 17 cardiologists (5%).
“We are concerned about this situation because the reduction in treatments does not respond to fewer heart attacks but probably to the fear of patients contracting Covid-19 if they go to the hospital.
The risk of increased disease and mortality that this may represent is notable, especially in the case of acute myocardial infarction”, according to one of the authors of the study, Dr. Oriol Rodríguez Leor. “We fear an accumulation of critical cardiovascular cases after the coronavirus crisis. They will not be easy to handle, “he predicts.
Data from the study, which will be published shortly in the scientific journal REC: Interventional Cardiology, suggest that the situation will produce an increase in cardiovascular mortality in both the short and the long term, with patients suffering sudden out-of-hospital death, cardiac rupture or extensive heart attacks.
The regions with the highest rates of decrease in AMI (Acute Myocardial Infarction) treatment during this last week have been Extremadura (-85%), Castilla la Mancha (-67%) and Andalusia and Asturias (-56%). In La Rioja, however, where no differences have been registered, and the Basque Country (-8%) and Galicia (-11%), the reduction has been more modest.
According to the latest data published by the National Statistics Institute (INE), in 2018 acute myocardial infarction was responsible for more than 14,521 deaths, “so we must not forget the importance of treating it effectively,” says the president of the SEC, Dr. Ángel Cequier.
“Scientific societies and health authorities, at the present time, must continue to promote strategies so that patients with heart attacks access the health system as soon as possible in order to receive treatment in the most appropriate way,” said the specialist. In addition, we must remind patients that “Cardiology Services, despite the pandemic, continue to be prepared to care for acute cardiovascular patients with the same excellence as always.”
“We ask that patients who feel heart attack symptoms immediately call 112 to activate the heart attack code, which has shown such good results in recent years,” said Cequier.