Doctor says some who need to go to hospital afraid to because of COVID-19

Doctor says some people afraid to go to hospital when they need to over COVID-19

BATON ROUGE, La. (WAFB) - Are possible heart attack patients and other people needing help avoiding hospitals because they’re afraid they may contract coronavirus?

One doctor thinks so, and he’s got the numbers to prove it.

“I had a heart attack this past Saturday (April 4),” said Chris Gautreau of Gonzales.

Gautreau says he woke up at about 4:30 a.m. Saturday morning and couldn’t breathe, no matter how hard he tried.

“I just couldn’t get enough air in my lungs. Chest tightening, chest pain, I knew exactly what it was. I told my wife to call 911 and get an ambulance rolling this way,” said Gautreau.

When paramedics arrived they confirmed Gautreau was having a heart attack.

He was taken to OLOL, where doctors found a number of his arteries had blockage in them.

“Did angioplasty with the balloon, and then put three stents in,” said Gautreau.

Chris Gautreau was okay, and was released from the hospital Sunday morning (April 5). He credits not being afraid to go to the hospital during the pandemic as playing a huge role in his recovery.
Chris Gautreau was okay, and was released from the hospital Sunday morning (April 5). He credits not being afraid to go to the hospital during the pandemic as playing a huge role in his recovery. (Source: WAFB)

Gautreau was okay, and was released from the hospital Sunday morning (April 5). However, some people with heart attack symptoms are choosing not to go to the hospital at all.

“I do know that our heart attack and ST-segment elevation myocardial infarction’s are lower than they’ve been in 5 years. They’re at least 50% down from last year, and they’re 30-to-50 percent down over the last 5 years,” said Dr. Bryan Hathorn, Director of the Chest Pain Unit at Our Lady of the Lake Regional Medical Center.

Dr. Hathorn says he's seen a huge reduction in patients coming into the hospital with acute types of problems like a stroke or heart attacks.

“They’re very worried that the hospitals are just over-run with the COVID-19 virus and they just don’t want to be exposed. They have pain in their chest, pain in their back, it goes down their arm, whatever, they sit around and wait. And they may or not survive their heart attack at home,” said Dr. Hathorn.

Dr. Bryan Hathorn, Director of the Chest Pain Unit at Our Lady of the Lake Regional Medical Center, says it's important people experiencing chest pain not be deterred away from speaking with a doctor or seeking medical help during the pandemic.
Dr. Bryan Hathorn, Director of the Chest Pain Unit at Our Lady of the Lake Regional Medical Center, says it's important people experiencing chest pain not be deterred away from speaking with a doctor or seeking medical help during the pandemic. (Source: WAFB)

Dr. Hathorn says there may be another reason for the fewer number of patients.

“People aren’t quite as stressed, they’re more sitting at home kind of waiting. They may not be going to work, doing strenuous activities and things like that,” said Hathorn.

“Go. You’re not going to get better sitting on your couch or in your recliner. Go. If you don’t go, the longer you wait, the worse your chances are of a full recovery and a quick recovery,” said Gatreau.

The CDC says symptoms of a heart attack include:

  • Chest pain or discomfort
  • Feeling weak, light-headed, or faint
  • Pain or discomfort in the jaw, neck, or back
  • Pain or discomfort in one or both arms or shoulders
  • Shortness of breath

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