Emergency heart care returns to pre-COVID-19 levels, Kaiser study finds

After significant drops during earlier waves of the COVID-19 pandemic, emergency hospitalizations for heart attacks and suspected strokes have rebounded to pre-pandemic levels, according to research published June 2 in JAMA

Using data from Kaiser Permanente Northern California, researchers examined weekly incidence rates for adults hospitalized for a heart attack or suspected stroke from January 2019 to January 2021. They then compared the incidence rates during three periods when COVID-19 cases surged in the spring, summer and winter, to the same weeks of the year before. 

Findings showed incidence rates dropped during the spring COVID-19 surge, and later recovered to 2019 levels. By the time the largest COVID-19 surge arrived in the winter, hospitalization rates for heart attack and stroke did not decrease. 

"In May 2020, we reported that, in the early months of the pandemic, the weekly number of patients admitted to our hospitals for a heart attack fell to nearly half of what would be expected," said Matthew Solomon, MD, PhD, lead study author and cardiologist at the Permanente Medical Group. "This follow-up study suggests that we were successful in our efforts to reassure patients that it was important to leave their homes and seek emergency care if needed, and that they could do so safely." 

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