The fear of coronavirus during the first coronavirus wave in Israel caused patients going through cardiac events to arrive at a hospital an hour later on average compared to the same time period in 2018, a study published on Tuesday showed.
The research is based on data from 13 hospitals in Israel gathered between March 9 and April 30, the peak of the country's first COVID-19 wave, and the parallel period in 2018.
The data shows the number of hospitalizations remained steady, but in 2020 it took patients three hours from to arrive at the hospital from the moment they began experiencing symptoms of a cardiac event, compared to just two hours in 2018.
Such delays in receiving treatment had a significant effect on the state in which patients arrived at hospitals – nearly twice as many patients in 2020 arrived at hospitals in a state of heart failure or cardiogenic shock, as evidence of damage likely caused by the delay.
The findings were published after the Health Ministry instructed hospitals to reduce activities unrelated to the treatment of coronavirus patients.
Physicians have warned that during the crisis such a policy could have severe consequences on the medical condition of countless patients who require urgent medical procedures that could get postponed.
One of the physicians behind the study, Director of the Intensive Cardiac Care Department at the Sheba Medical Center Prof. Shlomi Matetzky, said that as time passes from the onset of symptoms until the beginning of treatment, the damage can become more severe.
Prof. Matetzky also reserved that some patients may have died in their homes as a result of the delay and therefore were not included in the statistics.