A new study by UCL researchers found that in the early stages of the Covid-19 pandemic, lower hospitalization rates for urgent heart problems may have contributed to preventable deaths in England.
In this study, published online in the journal Circulation Cardiovascular Quality and Results, researchers from the UCL Institute of Health Informatics estimated the impact of reduced ED visits for suspected heart disease on non-Covid-19-related heart mortality in England.
A significant decrease in patient visits to emergency rooms (EDs) has been observed in England and the US, including people with heart problems, following the Covid-19 pandemic.
To quantify the number of excessive deaths from heart disease, the team used the Office of National Statistics (ONS) mortality figures for England. To quantify the change in daily ED visits, researchers used data from the Public Health England Emergency Department’s Syndrome Monitoring System (EDSSS) (PHE): a network of Sentinel EDs across England. To find out how reducing ED visits might have impacted heart mortality, the researchers implemented a causal inference method.
The lead author Dr. Michail Katsoulis (UCL Institute for Health Informatics) said: “In the initial phase of the pandemic between March 12th ** and April 15, 2020 there were an estimated fewer ED visits of 2,750 per week for suspected heart disease; This is a decrease of around 35% compared to the pre-pandemic this year.
“Our analysis found that cardiac death on an additional 12 ED visits may have been prevented or delayed if heart disease was suspected. We have estimated that excessive heart mortality from failure to participate in EDs in the early stages of the pandemic can be as high as 232 deaths per week. “
Lead author Dr. Tom Lumbers (UCL Health Informatics Institute) said, “While the decline in the number of patients having access to hospital care during the pandemic is well documented, here we provide an estimate of the health impact of this change in health care use.
“Public health reporting to protect the NHS may have resulted in patients not participating in ED out of fear or public concerns or difficulties in accessing services due to the pandemic.
“Our results suggest that the pandemic response may have resulted in under-treatment of non-Covid-19 diseases, including heart disease, which has had a significant impact on the excess mortality observed during this period.”
Dr. Lumbers added, “These results provide evidence of the strong indirect effects of the Covid-19 pandemic on mortality in England. There is a need to better understand how the pandemic response has resulted in a decrease in participation in EDs suspected of having heart disease and other serious medical conditions, in order to inform future strategies to mitigate the direct and indirect effects of the pandemic. “
The research team’s estimates are based on the assumption that the Covid-19 pandemic only affects excessive deaths from heart disease by reducing ED intake, and not due to other factors such as increased stress and anxiety.
Another possible limitation of this study is the possible misclassification of cardiac death as not related to Covid-19, as SARS-CoV-2 virus infection was excluded for clinical reasons and not by systematic viral ribonucleic acid tests.
(This story was posted from a wire agency feed with no text changes. Only the headline was changed.)
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