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Valley health expert warns virus fears may harm cardiovascular health

(Getty Images/Sean Gallup)

PHOENIX — As Arizona residents take steps to shelter themselves from the spread of coronavirus, they could be incurring risks to their cardiovascular health as a result.

Avoiding signs of a heart attack due to fears of contracting COVID-19 in a medical facility can lead to detrimental health consequences, according to Michael White, Valleywise Health chief medical officer.

“By not coming to an emergency department, we aren’t able to start those medications we know that make people live longer … and stop a heart attack,” White told KTAR News 92.3 FM on Wednesday.

White added that concerns related to COVID-19 has caused a consistent decrease in the volume of Arizona patients seeking emergency care.

“We have seen people not seeking emergency care for those conditions that warrant immediate intervention, such as chest discomfort or those signs and symptoms of a heart attack,” he said.

Despite fears patients may have of contracting the coronavirus, White encouraged prospective patients to entrust themselves to medical professionals when faced with potential heart complications.

“If you’re experiencing chest discomfort … It is important to seek emergency care,” he said.

“Emergency departments have done remarkably well in making certain that you are at as low risk as possible of contracting COVID-19 by segregating … patients into different areas.”

Citing the American College of Cardiology and the American Heart Association, White said there has been a 40% decrease nationwide of patients reporting to ER facilities due to chest pains.

KTAR News 92.3 FM’s Ali Vetnar contributed to this report.

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