Patient-led COVID-19 Response Campaign

With the COVID-19 pandemic continuing to threaten the lives of people with new onset cardiac conditions and people living with existing cardiac health challenges, the Global Heart Hub, an international alliance of heart patient organisations, has launched a ‘patient-led’ COVID Response Campaign. The aim of this international campaign is to save lives, reduce disability, increase awareness and drive action. Croí is a member of the Global Heart Hub and supports this campaign.

The pandemic has disrupted the world and, in particular, our personal health care and healthcare systems. Many people are slow to seek medical help when experiencing obvious cardiac symptoms. Many remain fearful of going to their doctor or to hospital. Many are cancelling important medical appointments. These delays in seeking help and commencing treatments can be life-threatening. It’s time to put heart health before the fear of COVID-19. You are 10 times more likely to die from a cardiac event than from COVID-19.

The campaign encompasses three important messages:

  • In recent months, many people with heart and stroke emergencies have delayed seeking medical help because of their fear of COVID-19. The #JustGo message is simple – when experiencing symptoms of heart attack or stroke, don’t delay, seek medical help. When your heart says so, #JustGo.
  • The #StepUp message encourages patients to be informed, know their symptoms and be assertive about their heart health. When your heart needs you, #StepUp.
  • The #JustTreat message is important for healthcare providers who have had to re-prioritise hospital resources, resulting in significantly impacted heart services. Because time is crucial, #JustTreat.

National Clinical Societies and international organisations such as the World Heart Federation, The European Society of Cardiology, International Atherosclerosis Society (IAS), FH Europe and others have united to share these important messages. Ignoring cardiac symptoms or delaying treatment carries the risk of severe complications and potentially life-threatening consequences.

According to recent research by the World Heart Federation, since the start of the pandemic there has been an increase of up to 139% in heart disease-related deaths. Attendance at hospital appointments has dropped by 76% globally. The number of heart attack patients seeking urgent hospital care has dropped, with a 58% increase in people having cardiac arrests at home. Across the world there has been a large decrease in cardiac admissions to hospital (across all cardiac conditions) and there has been a significant decrease in hospital interventions both surgical and less invasive.

National Clinical Societies and international organisations such as the World Heart Federation stand firmly behind this patient-driven initiative aiming to save lives. As leaders of the global heart community, they encourage healthcare workers to treat cardiovascular disease patients as effectively and quickly as possible, which includes making sure they get to them in time. During the COVID-19 pandemic it may be easy to overlook other diseases that affect our lives, and which can cause more damage in the long run. The international patient community encourages the media and the medical profession to spread this important message and help counter fear in times of uncertainty.

The repercussions of COVID-19 on the burden of cardiovascular disease requires unprecedented global health policy action. COVID-19 has impacted heart patients due to postponed appointments, delayed or cancelled procedures, with heart valve surgery and structural heart procedures being the worst hit by cancellations. Delayed or avoided cardiac care increases the risk of long term irreversible damage and even death.

Global Heart Hub’s COVID Response Campaign reaffirms medical advice to always act quickly when it comes to symptoms of heart disease. Early recognition of symptoms is key to ensure the best possible treatment and health outcome. The campaign also aims to reassure patients that the risk of coronavirus infection in hospital has been minimised for patients being admitted.

Learn more by visiting: croi.ie/covid-response/