Houston hospitals say decline in ER visits could be linked to COVID-19 fears

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- As the COVID pandemic continues, some local hospitals said they're seeing a decline in heart and stroke patients.

Memorial Hermann Hospital said it has seen a 30 percent decline in heart attack and stroke patients coming to the hospital over the last month.

They believe it's likely due to fears of coronavirus. However, doctors say there's not enough evidence to support that strokes and heart attacks are down, and they worry people avoiding medical help could have long lasting detrimental impacts.

"In my opinion, it could be a crisis within a crisis, a silent crisis within the COVID crisis," said the Director of the UTHealth Institute for Stroke and Cerebrovascular Disease and the Vascular Neurology Program at McGovern Medical School, Sean Savitz. "If patients feel that it's best for them to stay home and they're in the midst of a stroke, that could lead to far worse consequences."

Houston Methodist Hospital also reported a significant decline in non-COVID patients visiting its emergency rooms.

"Those diseases didn't disappear when COVID began, so the question on people avoiding a lump, a bump or a chest pain, is concerning and could quite honestly have long-term health effects on our community," said Roberta Shcwartz, Executive VP of Houston Methodist.

If you're suffering a medical emergency or start experiencing symptoms of one, doctors urge you to seek medical help as soon as possible.
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