Doctors urge to not let COVID fear stop ER visits

Doctors urge people to not let COVID fears stop ER visits

TUCSON, Ariz. (KOLD News 13) - Doctors are urging the public not to let the fear of COVID-19 stop you from visiting the doctor’s office or an emergency room. A recent survey found more than one in every four adults would rather stay at home when experiencing a heart attack or stroke than risk getting COVID-19 by visiting the hospital, according to the American Heart Association.

“It’s a very dangerous situation and can be deadly. For us as physicians, every second counts,” said Dr. Melissa Dakkak, a cardiologist at Carondelet St. Mary’s Hospital in Tucson.

Dr. Dakkak has noticed many people skipping care are older.

“They know COVID will affect them more seriously,” she said. “They are much more scared to seek medical attention or be around institutions where there are COVID patients.”

She said hospital treatment can prevent a heart attack or stroke from causing permanent damage.

“The quicker we can open that artery that’s blocked, that will allow the muscle to heal quicker and for the heart to recover,” Dr. Dakkak said.

She said heart attack symptoms include chest pain, discomfort, pressure in the middle of chest, pain radiating down arms or up to the jaw and shortness of breath. Stroke symptoms can include weakness in a limb, facial drooping or confusion.

Throughout the pandemic, pediatricians have also seen a drop in parents bringing in their children. The issue has impacted routine vaccinations for hepatitis, chicken pox, measles and whooping cough.

“Diseases we see with some frequency in our community, including here in Tucson, having our kids vaccinated against those is really the best way to protect them against all illnesses,” said Dr. Chan Lowe, division chief of pediatric medicine at Banner Diamond Children’s Hospital.

He said parents should be assured that doctor’s offices are taking all necessary COVID precautions to keep visitors safe.

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