Doctors are warning people not to be afraid to go to hospital if they have symptoms of heart disease.
The heart and stroke charity Croí is running a campaign urging people to #JustGo to the doctor if they are suffering symptoms.
On The Hard Shoulder this evening Professor Bill McEvoy, a cardiologist from University Hospital Galway said around 9,000 urgent cardiac care procedures were not carried out during lockdown.
He said it was “not surprising” that many people were afraid to go to hospital during the peak of the outbreak.
“We have seen some collateral damage so to speak from the lockdown and COVID-19 and it is very important that we emphasise that nobody did the wrong thing by complying with the restrictions,” he said.
“But we are in a different environment now with the low incidence of infection in communities and we really want to get the message out to patients that it is safe to come to the hospital.
“For cardiac disease in particular time is of the essence.”
He said the symptoms of heart disease can sometime be mistaken for indigestion and urged anyone who is in an at-risk group to call their doctor if they have concerns.
The symptoms include chest pain which is “generally felt as a squeezing or pressure in chest that radiates into jaw or left arm.”
At-risk groups include men over the age of 60, women over the age of 65, smokers and anyone with diabetes, high blood pressure or high cholesterol.
“There is an old phrase that one of my old cardiology trainers told me many years ago which always struck a chord with me,” said Professor McEvoy. “Glasnevin Cemetery is full of people who thought they had heartburn.”
“So, if you have symptoms of heart disease like chest pain on exertion and if you are unsure, particularly if you are older and have risk factors, it is better safe than sorry to get checked out.”
Ivan was also joined by 76-year-old Limerick man Robert Upton who began developing symptoms in late January.
He said he had a stint put in shortly afterwards but was waiting for surgery to remove an aortic valve blockage when lockdown was announced.
He eventually had successful surgery in late May – and is urging anyone with symptoms to seek medical help.
“I went straight away to my GP to get it checked which I think is quite important regardless of COVID or anything else,” he said.
“If you get any symptoms, you are far more likely to die of those symptoms that you are of COVID if you don’t get it checked out.”
He said people should not be afraid about presenting at hospital.
“The checks you go through before you go into the hospital are very thorough,” he said.
“I was checked for COVID before I went in; as soon as I arrived in the hospital, I was checked for COVID again and I felt quite safe in there.”
You can listen back to the full segment here: