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Don't Delay Seeking Help in an Emergency

Heart with congestive heart failure showing an enlarged left ventricle.
Cardiac emergencies are especially serious, and delaying care can have consequences including death.

Patients shouldn't wait to get help if they think they're having an emergency.

SIH cardiothoracic surgeon Junaid Haroon said some patients delayed care during the pandemic, worried they might get COVID in the hospital. But, he said, the risk is minimal and people shouldn't hesitate to seek help in an emergency.

"I think the safest thing to do if you're having an emergency is to come to the hospital," he said. "I don't think being in the hospital at this point, puts you at extra risk than being in the hospital does for anybody at any other time.

Haroon admitted that some procedures have changed thanks to COVID, but said hospitals are getting back to normal and resuming elective procedures that have been delayed over the past year.

"Of course, there are extra hoops that we need to jump through now because of COVID, like getting COVID tests from patients when they come to the hospital, or if they need surgery in a certain time frame, so I think there's a little bit more red tape but I think things are getting back to normal," he said.

Haroon said delaying care is particularly risky when it comes to cardiac emergencies. Anyone experiencing severe chest pain or pressure should seek medical attention. Those with risk factors including a family history of heart disease, obesity, and smoking should be especially vigilant.

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