“We attend about 30 heart attacks a month, but between March and May of last year, the figure decreased by almost 30%,” explains Jiménez. In Negrín, on the other hand, the reduction was higher over the same sum of patients and was at the levels set by the whole of the national territory. “It went down almost 40%,” says Dr. Caballero.
But, what explanation has this phenomenon? In the opinion of the doctors, the main weighting factor was the fear that the population had to travel to health centers for fear of contracting the SARS-CoV-2 infection. “Many patients preferred not to come. In addition, people were confined to their homes and physical activity from day to day had decreased. Various hypotheses are being considered, but fear is the main one ”, indicates the specialist from the referral hospital in the southern area of Gran Canaria.
According to data handled by the SEC, and which were released in September 2020 – during the second wave of the virus – hospital mortality due to myocardial infarction doubled, compared to the period prior to the outbreak of the pandemic. “We know that there has been an increase in mortality, but I think it is still too early to know exactly what the figures are,” adds the head of the Negrín Cardiology Service.
Cardiologists warn that there has been an increase in mortality
For his part, the person in charge of the same area in the Insular maintains that what has been able to influence the increase in mortality is that many of the patients could not arrive at a hospital in time, or they came late. “Some even died at home, but in these cases we cannot keep track of what happened,” he stresses.
Currently, the monthly number of heart attack assistance at the Doctor Negrín University Hospital of Gran Canaria has been equal to that recorded before the arrival of the coronavirus, while in the Insular it has increased slightly in the last quarter to reach between 35 and 38 every month.
However, despite the notable reduction in medical intervention for these causes between March and May of last year, in 2020 there were 1,900 admissions to the Insular Hospital for different heart diseases, almost the same number as reflected in the 2019 statistics. Doctor Negrín, on the other hand, the data increased and went from the 2,300 registered in 2019 to the 2,500 that occurred last year.
It should be noted that the centers made great efforts to offer the same resources and care to patients so that health care would not be diminished. Likewise, in order to be in direct contact with Primary Care, virtual consultancies were promoted. «Initially, face-to-face consultations decreased and telephone consultations began to be promoted. In addition, the hospital put at our disposal a connection system to know the evolution of the admissions and the clinical history of the patients from home “, informs Dr. Jiménez, who also clarifies that, in the event that the doctors consider it necessary , the sick had to go to the hospital for the consultation. “At no time were they neglected, least of all those with high priority,” he adds.
Based on the words of the cardiologist, the main people who were reluctant to go to the hospital were the older patients. In fact, many older people who needed a replacement for their pacemakers preferred to postpone appointments. “With the passage of time, contagions began to decrease and this activity increased,” explains the specialist.
Likewise, the head of the aforementioned service describes as “excellent” the work carried out by the health workers in this hospital area, having managed to maintain the proper functioning of the unit. «The reinforcements did not diminish and that is something that must be taken into account. Another positive thing is that in our service there have been no in-hospital outbreaks or sick leave due to coronavirus, ”he highlights.
On these lines, Eduardo Caballero maintains that the professionals of the Doctor Negrín Hospital have been adapting to the epidemiological situation at all times. «In March 2020, we tried to have the hospital prepared to take care of patients with covid and free up spaces. When the first wave passed, we wanted to recover part of the activity that we had lost because, without a doubt, there was a reduction in scheduled activity as in many other areas of the center. In this way, our chronic heart disease patients were not neglected, ”he points out.
In the northern hospital, circuits for the care of patients were also created and, as the center had also recently started the Heart Transplant Program, means were implemented so that the Cardiology area was sufficiently protected. “The result of our policy was very positive,” he guarantees. “The telephone became one of our best weapons and, during confinement, people felt protected and protected with the calls we made, since we offered the same attention as in person,” continues the doctor.
Right now, despite the high incidence of the pathogen, Doctor Negrín’s Cardiology Service is working at levels higher than those registered before the health crisis, in order to improve the waiting lists for invasive and non-invasive procedures. «Interventional procedures were very affected at the beginning, since we had to defer some programmed activities such as catheterizations or electrocardiological studies. for example, but we managed to close 2020 with an 8% increase in our activity “, says Caballero.