In more than 8 weeks of mandatory preventive isolation (ASPO) due to the coronavirus pandemic, much of daily life was put on hold. But as the medical community has been warning, both chronic diseases (cardiovascular, diabetes, cancer, among others), and acute episodes (such as heart attacks and strokes) that require urgent care do not know of quarantines. The Fundación Cardiológica Argentina (FCA) conducted a survey of more than 1,500 people with cardiovascular disease (CVD), which showed that 4 out of 10 required care during this period, but more than half could not access it.
Pre-existing pathologies run their course without controls, which can lead to a health disaster, they warned from the institution. And they pointed out that this scenario occurs due to the combination of several factors: people’s fear of contracting the new coronavirus in health centers, concerns related to problems with mobilization, not having their GP available or the decision of the patient to postpone studies and consultations until the isolation ends.
“Strokes and heart attacks continue to occur and the main chronic diseases suffered by Argentines are at risk of being neglected in times of pandemic. This led us to want to know what and how the patient with cardiovascular disease feels in our country, “said Stella Pereiro, member of the FCA Executive Committee and director of research of the” Survey for patients with cardiovascular disease in the COVID era. -19 ”.
The FCA survey was based on a 15-question questionnaire that was answered virtually between May 1 and 6 by adults with prior CVD from different parts of the country, the majority women (66.8%), with an average age of 56 years. The objective? Know the access to medical care and health information in these patients during ASPO.
The most frequent cardiovascular diseases reported by the participants – each respondent reported the one they consider most important and for which they are medicated – they were: high blood pressure (52.1%), myocardial infarction (10%), chronic heart failure (8.1%) and arrhythmias (6.9%). The rest were distributed among other diseases (congenital heart defects, pacemaker or other device carrier, cardiac surgery, angina without heart attack, coronary angioplasty, valve disease, among others).
Regarding medical care, 42% of those surveyed stated having needed it for their cardiovascular disease, but 57.9% reported not having been able to specify it.
When investigating the causes of the lack of access to the consultation, almost 7 out of 10 (68.2%) answered that it was due to the lack of attention by the health system. The medical assistance reported by the participants corresponded 44.3% to social works; 29% to prepaid medicine; public sector and PAMI 10.8% and 11%, respectively; while 7.1% said to attend in a particular way.
With regard to the use of technology and telemedicine – which is talked about so much these days – half said that they had not had access to some type of virtual consultation for their cardiovascular disease. Among those who did have this offer, 62% did not need to use it.
Seven out of 10 required medical prescriptions for the treatment of their cardiovascular disease: 60% obtained them normally and 13% could not obtain them. Almost 20% found it “somewhat difficult” to access them, while 6% found it “extremely difficult”.
Since people with cardiovascular disease are considered at-risk groups, they have free and compulsory vaccination against influenza and pneumococcus, which help reduce complications, hospitalizations and mortality from these flu and pneumonia. Despite this, only 4 out of 10 were able to vaccinate normally and, at the time of completing the survey, 36.7% had not been vaccinated.
Precisely because they are groups at higher risk, in this context, isolation is one of the main care measures to prevent Covid-19 disease. In this sense, 92.4% said they were fully complying with ASPO, 3.4% admitted having made some unnecessary exits and only 4% reported not having been able to comply with the quarantine.
When asked if health systems provided qualified and serious health education on cardiovascular diseases or COVID-19, almost half of the respondents reported negatively (45%); while 38% said yes, but 63.6% of them did not use it.
Regarding whether they felt protected by their health system in the current situation, more than half feel between very and more or less unprotected (19.2% and 35.4% respectively). The remaining 45% said they considered themselves protected, but only a minority of them (18%) stated that they felt very protected.
“We know that it is never a good time to be sick, but given the situation we are going through in our country from the isolation measures in place to combat the Covid-19 pandemic, we find ourselves facing a particularly stressful reality for those who may need medical attention for another cause ”, analyzed from the institution.
And FCA President Jorge Tartaglione concluded: “We are aware that, on the one hand, medical care is focused on COVID-19 and on the other, for fear of leaving their homes and getting coronavirus, many patients delay the consultation, even having warning symptoms. In this sense, it is very important to remember that people with chronic diseases need care, since in a pandemic there is a risk of an increase in cardiovascular mortality, a group of conditions that, in Argentina and in the world, they are the first cause of death ”.
Source: Clarín newspaper.