Heart attacks are medical emergencies and not a problem that can just be brushed aside, to do so risks serious consequences. Whilst the nation was in the midst of lockdown, hospital admissions relating to heart attacks are said to have dropped by a third across England.

Researchers for The Lancet journal estimate that by the end of May 2020, 5,000 fewer people than expected were seen and treated for urgent heart symptoms. The study suggests that some avoidable deaths may have occurred as a result.

The report notes that from mid-February and throughout March 2020 there were about 2,000 hospital admissions for suspected heart attacks and angina per week. Whilst admissions started to rise during April and May 2020 they still felt short of the 2019 average of 3,000 admissions per week.

It is thought that fear and anxiety surrounding coronavirus and the prevalence of this in hospitals put many individuals off seeking urgent help. It has been reported across other areas of medicine that patients have not wanted to add to the pressures of GP’s and doctors by burdening them with their symptoms. Cancer referrals, ongoing eyesight treatment, and cervical screening are all areas where numbers treated are down whether that be from patients fearing exposure to the risks of Covid-19, or from cancellations made by the NHS.

Nick Linker, NHS National Clinical Director for Heart Disease commented, "NHS staff pulled out all the stops to treat over 100,000 people for coronavirus in hospitals during the pandemic. But they also made sure that everyone who needed urgent and emergency treatment for other conditions - including for heart attacks and strokes - could get it in a safe way.”

People attending hospital with heart problems now appear to be returning to pre-coronavirus levels and the message to public remains “heart attacks are a medical emergency and can be fatal, so help us help you, and call 999 right away”.

What is a heart attack? 

Symptoms include:

  • a tightness or crushing pain travelling from the chest into the arms, jaw or neck
  • shortness of breath
  • sweating
  • dizziness

It is important that anyone with chest pain calls an ambulance immediately, because every minute of delay increases the risk of dying or experiencing serious complications from a heart attack.

If you are concerned that you or a loved one attended a healthcare professional to discuss symptoms of a suspected heart attack and feel let down by the treatment received, please contact a member of our national team for a free, confidential discussion:-

Karen Reynolds, Partner (Derby/Stoke on Trent/Birmingham) on 0845 274 6830 karen.reynolds@freeths.co.uk

Carolyn Lowe, Partner (Oxford/Milton Keynes/London/Bristol) on 0186 578 1019 carolyn.lowe@freeths.co.uk

Jane Williams, Partner (Leicester/Nottingham) on 0845 272 5724 jane.williams@freeths.co.uk


To learn more

The British Heart Foundation provide information regarding heart conditions and risk factors associated therewith. See their website at https://www.bhf.org.uk

Further information regarding the reduction in hospital admissions during the Covid-19 pandemic:- https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/health-53401573