By Tara Gary
Have you or someone you know experienced the common symptoms of a heart attack—such as chest pain, pain in the left arm or shoulder, and shortness of breath? How about symptoms of stroke—such as numbness or the inability to move parts of the face, arm, or leg; slurred speech, confusion, headache with vomiting, or difficulty with vision?
I recently spoke with Dr. Vikram Reddy, Chief Medical Officer for Wellstar Kennestone and Windy Hill Hospitals. We discussed the importance of reacting quickly when you or someone you know is experiencing the symptoms of a heart attack or stroke. The clock starts at the first sign of either and keeping the reaction time to a minimal is of utmost importance. The sooner treated, the better the outcome. This message is one that has been stressed in the past, and Dr. Reddy wanted to affirm it has not changed.
Dr. Reddy explained that since the COVID-19 pandemic, Wellstar—as well as other hospitals nationwide—has seen a dramatic decrease (40-50%) in heart attack and stroke victims. He attributes the decrease to the lack of willingness for many to visit emergency rooms, for fear of contracting COVID-19. Dr. Reddy asserted the risk of contracting the virus is significantly less than the complications of not responding quickly enough to the symptoms of a heart attack or stroke. If you do not seek immediate care, the risk of your heart or brain being permanently damaged rises significantly. Again, every second counts. His message was clear, do not hesitate to call 911 or seek the nearest emergency room should you encounter such symptoms.
Wellstar is taking every precaution, practicing proper social distancing methods, wearing masks, and sanitizing their facilities. The outstanding, personalized care Wellstar provides its patients “hasn’t changed,” he said. One practice they have implemented is VirtualCare—virtual health visits for patients over the phone or through video conferencing. This is a form of value-added, personalized care from the comfort of your home. The tailored treatments patients have come to expect from the world-class healthcare teams of Wellstar. Telehealth not only keeps patients from having to leave their homes during this time, it makes the entire process more efficient for both patients and physicians.
I appreciate Dr. Reddy taking the time to speak with me about the importance of seeking medical attention if the time should arise. It is comforting to know that even during this pandemic the professional healthcare providers at Wellstar are there waiting and ready for you. So please, I encourage you to heed the advice of Dr. Reddy, and at the first sign of a heart attack or stroke—call 911. Do not hesitate for fear of this pandemic. Remember, the clock starts as soon as your symptoms arise. Time is of the essence, and the right call could save your life.