Even in the COVID-19 Era, Health Emergencies Need Quick Action
Avera health professionals are reminding the public that when emergencies like stroke or heart attack happen, emergency care – right away – is just as important now as in times before the COVID-19 pandemic.
So is ongoing care for chronic conditions.
Individuals may hesitate due to fears of virus exposure, but in life-saving situations, every second counts. Hospital emergency rooms are safe environments, with constant steps being taken to reduce the chance of virus exposure or spread.
Clinics have also taken measures to separate respiratory illness from other patient needs, either by space in the clinic or by time of day. Virtual visits are available in numerous medical specialties, making it easier for people to ensure they receive ongoing care as recommended for conditions such as diabetes, high blood pressure, or heart or vascular disease.
“It’s important for people at risk to continue to see their doctor as recommended, take their meds and keep up with therapies so they can avoid possible life-threatening events,” said physician J. Michael Bacharach, MD, FACC, FSCAI, MPH, who specializes in vascular medicine and intervention and peripheral vascular medicine at the Avera Heart Hospital. “Heart attacks are not something to ignore, no matter what. Call 911 or go to an emergency room.”
If you or someone you love experiences these signs – call 911:
• Chest pain or discomfort.
• Pain or discomfort in the arms, back, neck, jaw or upper abdomen.
• Shortness of breath.
• Nausea, lightheadedness, or cold sweats.
Heart attacks are not the only crisis condition.
Stroke, which is sometimes known as “brain attack,” is also a serious health condition that requires immediate emergency care. Symptoms are easy to remember with the stroke memory tool, BE FAST, which stands for:
Balance – Sudden loss of balance or coordination with walking.
Eyes – Sudden loss of vision in one or half of both eyes.
Face – Sudden onset of weakness in one half of the face, with drooping when the person is asked to smile.
Arms – Sudden onset of arm or leg weakness on one side, in which the arm or leg on the affected side will drift downward or not move at all after both sides are lifted.
Speech – Sudden onset of slurred or garbled speech, or an inability to repeat simple phrases.
Time – Reminder to not waste time, and to call 911 if you notice one or more of these warning signs, or get emergency care right away.
“With any stroke, the sooner we can get the patient care, the more likely we can reduce the damage that the blood clot will cause in the brain,” said Alex Linn, MD, a neuro-endovascular specialist and stroke neurologist with Avera Brain & Spine Institute. “We can use minimally invasive neuro-endovascular interventions to prevent further damage and administer clot-busting medications such as the drug, tPA. Don’t delay – get to the ER as soon as you can or call 911.”
Intervention can save lives and heart muscle, but timing is critical – so get help as soon as symptoms appear. Learn more at Avera.org/heart or Avera.org/stroke.