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Patients with history of strokes, heart conditions encouraged to seek medical attention despite COVID-19 crisis

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BATON ROUGE- We are facing an unexpected challenge in this coronavirus pandemic. Emergency room traffic for heart and stroke patients has declined while they are still in need of care.

"The longer people sit at home, the more damage they're going to do to their heart that is irreversible," cardiologist at Our Lady Of the Lake Doctor Kenneth Civello said.

The number of heart and stroke patients doctors normally see has recently been cut in half. Dr. Civello says people are afraid to seek medical attention, and they should not be. 

"We'd normally see on average maybe one to two acute heart attacks that need to be rushed to the cardiac catheterization lab a day. I think we're probably seeing a little bit less than half of that," said Civello.

It's an issue nationwide, however most facilities, like OLOL, have set up a unit specifically for COVID-19 patients so the rest of the hospital can try and get back to normal.

"We are being very mindful of protecting our patients who come in and try not to expose them to patients who might have the virus," said Dr. Civello.

The number of calls for heart attacks and strokes EMTs are seeing at East Baton Rouge Parish Emergency Medical Services are also down.

"The chances of you contracting coronavirus in the emergency room as a heart patient or something is basically non-existent. So, if you have a medical emergency, seek out medical help immediately," spokesperson Mike Chustz said.


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