Sharp Drop in Heart Surgeries During the Pandemic
Prior to the pandemic outbreak, the central Atlantic and New England regions were performing extremely well, with lower than expected death rates, Nguyen’s team noted.
That changed during the pandemic outbreak: Instead, there was a significant increase in fatal outcomes for all adult heart procedures studied, and this was especially true for people undergoing bypass surgery, according to the study.
The data failed to understand the reasons for the increase in deaths, but many surgeons say they are currently limited to operating only on the most urgent coronary bypass cases and patients who tend to be sicker initially, which might skew the results.
That means “less sick” heart patients can avoid surgery – and they shouldn’t, said Dr. Robbin Cohen, of the Keck School of Medicine at the University of Southern California. He did not participate in the study.
“These numbers should not serve as a deterrent to patients seeking care for chest pain or other heart symptoms,” Cohen said in the statement. “If anything, they’re a warning to get into the system ASAP.”
Hartman agreed. He said many patients who had avoided heart surgery in 2020 could have died at home.
For example, Hartman said, “during the peak of the outbreak in New York City on April 7, 2020, EMS data revealed that the rate of sudden home death skyrocketed to numbers never seen before.”
Hartman’s advice: “Patients who have symptoms that may be of cardiac origin, or those with known heart disease, should continue to treat these symptoms. [symptoms] and do not delay or procrastinate. Most hospitals are safe havens, where all patients and staff are routinely screened and tested for COVID disease and, where appropriate, treated in units separate from other units, including cardiac surgery areas. “
The US National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute has more information on heart surgery.
SOURCES: Alan Hartman, MD, president and senior vice president, cardiovascular and thoracic surgery, Northwell Health, Manhasset, NY; Society of Thoracic Surgeons, press release, January 30, 2021
Our sincere thanks to