Hackensack Meridian Jersey Shore University Medical Center is warning patients not to ignore stroke or heart attack symptoms in fear of contracting COVID-19.
Hospitals across the nation are seeing an increase of people ignoring life-threatening symptoms and staying home, instead of going to the emergency department. Many patients are arriving to the hospital when it’s too late, losing critical time to receive life-saving treatments. This is especially true of patients suffering from heart attack or stroke symptoms.
“When it comes to treating a heart attack, seeking immediate care is critical,” said Matthew Saybolt, M.D., interventional cardiologist at Jersey Shore University Medical Center. “The longer the blockage is preventing blood flow, more of your heart tissue dies. If things progress where you go into cardiac arrest, there’s a small window of time to get your heart beating again.”
Like a heart attack, every minute matters when treating a stroke. “We often say time is brain because the longer your brain is without oxygen due to a stroke, the higher your chances for disability or death,” said Stephen Martino, M.D., neurologist at the medical center. “If someone is having a stroke, they may arrive at the hospital unable to move half their body, but if we catch it in time, we can provide treatment that can increase their chances of having a good neurological outcome. If people wait too long, those deficits can become permanent.”
According to the academic medical center located in Neptune, N.J., the following are emergent warning signs that should never be ignored:
• Chest discomfort – pressure, squeezing, fullness or pain
• Discomfort in other areas of the upper body like the arms, back, neck, jaw or stomach
• Shortness of breath
• Other signs including cold sweats, nausea or lightheadedness
• Balance issues
• Vision problems
• Facial drooping
• Arm weakness
• Speech difficulty