Online searches for 'chest pain' rose significantly during initial surge of pandemic, study shows

Internet searches for chest pain symptoms rose during the pandemic in four countries, including the U.S., a new study shows.

The study, published in the journal JMIR Cardio, examined Google trends data for several search terms, including "chest pain," "myocardial infarction," "cough" and "fever" from June 1, 2019, to May 31, 2020. Researchers studied data for Italy, Spain, the United Kingdom and the U.S.

From June 1, 2019 to March 1, 2020, the frequency of internet searches for chest pain varied only a little among the four countries evaluated. But from March 1 to May 31, all four countries saw a rise in searches for chest pain compared to the period before March 1. All the countries experienced at least a 34 percent rise in searches for those topics, with Spain seeing the largest increase at 84 percent.

Searches for chest pain that rose included "coronavirus chest pain," "home remedies for chest pain" and "natural remedies for chest pain."

"Some of the rising searches, such as 'home remedies for chest pain' and 'natural remedies for chest pain' — both of which had a greater than 41 times increase — were surprising and provide insight into patients' possible avoidance of healthcare contact during the pandemic," said Conor Senecal, MD, first author on the study and a cardiology fellow at Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn.

Searches for other COVID-19 symptoms, such as cough or fever, rose initially but returned to baseline, while chest pain-related searches remained high throughout May, the study shows.

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