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Heart attack and stroke don’t stop for COVID-19

Visits to the emergency room have declined in Washington and across the country since the COVID-19 pandemic began. Since we’re staying in our homes, and driving less, we may certainly be having fewer car crashes and fewer workplace or sports-related injuries. But what’s really concerning is that hospitals across the country are reporting a drop in the number of people coming to the emergency department for a heart attack or stroke.

We don’t have any reason to believe that people are having fewer heart attacks or strokes right now, so it could be that people who are actually having a heart attack or a stroke are deciding not to go to the hospital to avoid getting exposed to COVID-19.

This is a really bad idea. It’s important to get medical care as soon as possible if you are having or think you may be having a heart attack or stroke. If you don’t get treatment or if you delay treatment, you may be doing much more damage to your heart or brain, and this damage could be irreversible.

Patient safety is really important to health care professionals. Emergency medical services (EMS) and hospitals across Washington have taken great care to plan for how they will keep people safe from COVID-19. They have equipment and protocols in place to make sure they can bring people to the hospital and treat them safely when they are having a medical emergency.

Call 9–1–1 at signs of heart attack or stroke

If you experience symptoms of a heart attack or stroke, or witness the signs in another person, call 9–1–1. Learn more about the signs and symptoms from the American Heart Association.

What if a person having a cardiac arrest has COVID-19? The American Heart Association has just published interim CPR guidelines to help rescuers stay safe while providing CPR to people with cardiac arrest who have or may have COVID-19. If you are willing and able, and you witness someone having a cardiac arrest, call 9–1–1, then put on your cloth face covering and begin Hands-Only CPR.

Practice compassion

Not sure whether someone near you is having a stroke? Call 9–1–1. A doctor will make the diagnosis. When it comes to stroke, love means making the call. Our health care providers know how to provide safe emergency care even during the COVID-19 pandemic.

More Information

Stay tuned to our blog for more information on how you can help stop the spread of COVID-19. Sign up to be notified whenever we post new articles.

Information in this blog changes rapidly. Check the state’s COVID-19 website for up-to-date and reliable info at coronavirus.wa.gov.

Answers to your questions or concerns about COVID-19 in Washington state may be found at our website. You can also contact our call center at
1–800–525–0127. Hours: 6 am-10 pm, seven days a week.

Public Health Connection

From the Washington State Department of Health

Washington State Department of Health

Written by

Protecting and improving the health of people in Washington State.

Public Health Connection

From the Washington State Department of Health

Washington State Department of Health

Written by

Protecting and improving the health of people in Washington State.

Public Health Connection

From the Washington State Department of Health

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