As the COVID-19 pandemic continues, MedStar has announced that monthly cardiac arrest cases decreased during March after a significant spike at the beginning of 2021, indicating that the 911 response volume may be getting back to normal.
According to MedStar, 2021 presented a major challenge as crews worked to respond to significant COVID-19 patient volume and major weather issues.
In January and February, crews saw a significant spike in cardiac arrest cases with monthly cases up 31% and 35% respectively, MedStar said.
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MedStar said that in March, however, cardiac arrest cases were only slightly more than last year.
According to MedStar, the increase in response volume for patients who are likely having a heart attack could be a sign that normalcy is returning.
MedStar said crews were concerned during 2020 with the decline in daily response volume for potential heart attack victims, fearing people may be afraid to call 911 due to COVID-19 and that leading to cardiac arrest cases.
According to an article by the American College of Cardiology, “Deaths from ischemic heart disease and hypertensive diseases in the United States increased during the COVID-19 pandemic.”
“During the height of stay-at-home orders in the U.S., hospitals reported a decline in the number of heart attack and stroke patients being diagnosed and treated at the hospital," the ACC article said. "The assumption was that some patients feared contracting COVID-19 at a hospital and were choosing to delay care or not seek care at all for emergencies, including heart attacks.”
In April 2020, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report suggested that ER visits were down 42% across the country compared to the same period the year prior.
In June 2020, the American Heart Association created a public education and awareness campaign called Don’t Die of Doubt that reminded Americans that the hospital was the safest place to be if they experience symptoms of a heart attack or a stroke.
The campaign emphasized that the best chance to survive a heart attack or stroke is to call 911 and get an ambulance to the hospital because emergency response systems are trained to help safely and quickly, even during a pandemic.
Acording to MedStar, the median heart attack symptom duration before calling 911 is approximately two hours, but MedStar recommends calling 911 as soon as you think you may be experiencing signs and symptoms of a heart attack.
For information on the signs and symptoms of a heart attack, as well as resources to learn CPR, visit the American Heart Association's website.