Mayo Clinic researchers have determined that at the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, searches for “myocardial infarction” dropped, while searches for “chest pain” rose at least 34%. A Mayo Clinic news release explains that, theoretically, “the frequency of heart attacks would stay the same or even rise” in a setting such as the pandemic. However, based on the association, Google Trends data from Italy, Spain, the U.K. and the U.S. involving terms such as “chest pain” and “myocardial infarction” over a one-year period indicates otherwise. According to Mayo Clinical Cardiology Fellow Conor Senecal, “searches for ‘heart attack’ dropped during the same period of reported reduced heart attack admissions.”
Senecal notes the numbers raise “concern that people may have either misconstrued chest pain as an infectious symptom or actively avoided getting care due to COVID-19 concerns.” Although stay-at-home orders initially paused most elective care, the Mayo Clinic scientists say it’s essential for physicians to inform patients about the consequences of delayed cardiovascular care and emphasize that “emergency conditions such as a heart attack and stroke can be safely cared for,” even during the pandemic.
MLMIC reminds physicians and other healthcare providers to instruct patients to seek emergency medical care if they experience signs of a heart attack and to be aware of the common symptoms that are associated with the condition.
Policyholders are encouraged to visit our dedicated resource page for ongoing guidance related to delivering care during the pandemic.