About 40% of critical heart patients missing care, South Dakota cardiologist says

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About 40 percent of heart attack or stroke patients aren't coming to the hospital in time to effectively treat their condition out of fear of contracting COVID-19, a South Dakota cardiologist told the Rapid City Journal. 

Joseph Tuma, MD, is an interventional cardiologist and medical director at Rapid City (S.D.) Hospital's Monument Health Heart and Vascular Institute. 

"Unfortunately, we've been seeing a lot of patients come to the hospital sort of late in the course of their disease, particularly people with heart attacks or strokes who are scared to come to the hospital," Dr. Tuma said. "By the time they get here, a lot of them have sustained a lot of damage already. The main message I want to get across is that the hospital is safe." 

Patients who experience any sudden chest pain or other discomfort that won't go away should immediately seek medical care instead of trying to wait it out or trying self remedies, Dr. Tuma urged. 

Patients should keep routine cardiac care appointments, Dr. Tuma said, reiterating that rigid safety measures are in place and that COVID-19 patients are quickly separated from other patients upon arrival. 


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