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ER during a pandemic? What my thought are.
Recently went through some unusual readings with my heart. Of course, waited until a holiday weekend to write to the cardiologist on the patient portal! But, the readings changed back to normal. I kept thinking, should I go get checked or not? I think it is such a personal decision based on each individual case, but what I decided for me is until it gets bad enough to warrant risking this terrible virus, I'm am not going. If I think my life may be in danger, I am going. My problem is, with my history, a trip to the ER automatically means admittance, even if it's for observation. I'm 74, have several heart issues, have a pacemaker onboard, etc. They never let me go home. Today I woke up with totally normal readings and I have an email into cardiology. I promise you if I get worse or feel dangerous symptoms, I'm going in. I just wish there wasn't a pandemic and such a high death rate for a person like me. So far, so good though. Share your thoughts with me on how you decide for your personal situation. Stay safe and hugs from Virginia, where our numbers are spiking.
Raindrop32, May 24, 2020 3:09am EST
Personally, I'd go to Emergency again only if I was pretty sure I'm in mortal danger. Or if a physician or nurse sends me.
Not due to concerns about COVID (I've already had it in March), but because, even with an arrhythmia diagnosis in hand, I predict that the staff wouldn't take me seriously anyway unless some incredibly obvious drama was in progress. You know those stories about women dying in hospital waiting rooms because their heart attack was misdiagnosed as indigestion or anxiety?
I don't look like a "heart patient." In the words of the hospitalist who briefly saw me in November, "You don't look like you have any medical problems at all. You look thin and healthy." The attending ER doc and NP managed to cajole him into admitting me. I had just survived cardiac arrest, after clear and worsening cardiac symptoms for 5 months, and a trained physician was about to send me home with no diagnosis or treatment plan, because I am a 34 year old female without an obvious weight problem. Think about that.
But in any case, I agree that it's a catch-22 for cardiologists and patients. Mine was only seeing acute patients for 2 months. On one hand, they need to treat people's heart problems, but one contagious person can make a whole room full of heart patients very ill. I had the virus in March, and my heart has been markedly worse since. I'll be able to see my doctor in June when they open up the office more.
NewPacer73, May 24, 2020 9:21pm EST
Raindrop32: Thanks for responding. That's where my head is at and you are proof that vulnerable doesn't always mean you're over 60. That's the tricky part of this virus. Just when we think we think we know what's happening, it's young people like you who get nailed. I designed a mask arriving in 10 days that says
I'm wearing this mask to
What are you doing to
It's a huge hit among our friends. People think this is over. Nothing has changed except 100.000 have died now for something that was supposed to be a hoax or disappear. Stay safe.
AHAASAKatie, May 25, 2020 9:49am EST
I love the idea of your Mask!!! Thank you for sharing. I did want to provide the resources we have on ER Visits and COVID Concerns.
Don't hesitate to get the care you need
Call 911 at the first sign of a heart attack, stroke or other emergency. Connect with your health care provider as your community eases COVID-19 restrictions.
From the AHA perspective please go, if you feel heart or stroke symptoms.
Hope this helps and know that we are here with you! Katie
Raindrop32, May 25, 2020 3:49pm EST
I like your mask idea, too, Newpacer73. Now that people are gathering again, masks and handwashing and staying home while you're sick are going to be even more important.
It's concerning to see things opening up again, but there are no facile answers here. COVID19 isn't going to disappear anytime soon. It will likely circulate around and come and go in waves. But people have to get back to some semblance of normalcy eventually. There is a life-cost to poverty as well.
Here in Tennessee, some places like day camps and dance studios are opening again. Sounds like a terrible idea because if you want to spread a contagious illness, that's how to do it. But I get it-- hospitalization and death rates are relatively low here, and people need to put bread on the table. Technically, my family should be the safest because we already were infected (assuming we have immunity for the time being at least)-- but, call me irrational, because I'm staying far far away.
TessC, May 26, 2020 2:41pm EST
@raindrop, I don't mean to pry or be nosey, but can you tell us how the virus has affected your heart? What are you still dealing with? I know when I have an SVT episode my heart will be (what I call) tachy for days-seemingly on the verge of going into SVT again. I'm not sure I had COVID-19 but I had a very bad "flu" in Feburary-before all the news about COVID-19, but when it was likely in the US so who knows what I had. I wonder if that is why I've been so tachy these past few months?
NewPacer73, May 26, 2020 2:55pm EST
Tess, I was hospitalized with what they said was Type A, H1N1 flu in early February too. I had to go in because I found myself passed out in a shower stall. I was fighting high fever for days (over102) and severe flu symptoms, but had the flu shot and thought it was a horrible cold. I have been wondering if I had this COVID thing, but since tests for anitbodies are so unreliable still, I haven't gotten it done. But I'm curious. I do know that some patients have said the after affects of COVID can be serious, so I'm keeping my distance from the ER unless I have data/symptoms that warrant intervention. I already survived a cardiac arrest, so I know what to look for. I love your question for raindrop. I'm curious about it too. Thanks for posting. Personally, I think "vulnerable" people ought to be on the list to get testing. My 79 year old sister in law in Texas was turned down because she was not exposed to a COVID case, although she had symptoms. So there really is no "if you want a test, you can get it" rule in the Texas or the CDC right now. Testing is still a problem. Wonder when underlying heart conditions will actually automatically get you to be able to get a test? We know so little about COVID. Stay safe.
Raindrop32, May 26, 2020 6:11pm EST
I have Inappropriate Sinus Tachycardia (IST). Since getting sick inMarch, I've had an increase in all the symptoms: rapid heartbeat (disproportionate to exertion), getting "winded" or short of breath too easily, angina, lightheadedness, fainting, palpitations that are annoying and prevent me from sleeping, feeling like my heart is beating more irregularly. Especially the irregular heartbeat feeling.
I read that either the virus itself or the immune reaction to it, can damage the heart, including the pacemaker cells. Some studies were published regarding people with AFib, but it might apply to arrhythmias as well.
TessC, May 28, 2020 4:55pm EST
Thanks for sharing Raindrop32 and I'm sorry you are still dealing with these symtoms after all these months. And I couldn't agree more NewPacer73. How do we know if we were or were not exposed to someone with COVID-19. Some people don't show the symtoms, but are spreaading virus far and wide! I wish the AHA would push for our testing if we show any signs of illness-period. Please take good care.
terpsfan94, July 31, 2020 2:54am EST
Hi from San Diego, CA. I had to go to ER last month. My mom passed away on June 3rd. That night, my heart was racing like crazy, I felt lightheaded and thought I was going to pass out. My husband decided it was best to call 911, despite my fears of going to the hospital during this awful pandemic. I was scared to go, but I think I was more afraid because my husband couldn't come with me. Long story short, I was admitted and stayed 2 nights. I felt safe and if I had to go again, I wouldn't hesitate. The doctors and nurses were amazing and took great care of me. The attending cardiologist was amazing. Come to find out, he happens to be in the same practice as my mom's cardiologist. He recognized me from taking my mom to all her appointments. I hope you're feeling better. Please stay safe! Hugs from San Diego.