Fewer severe heart attack patients pursued PCI pre-COVID

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ALBANY, N.Y. (February 3, 2021) – In a recent study, Distinguished Professor Edward Hannan, Cardiac Services Program Project Director Kimberly Cozzens and colleagues investigated the fluctuation in the number of patients who underwent percutaneous coronary intervention (PCI) for ST-elevation myocardial infarctions (STEMI) before and during the COVID-19 pandemic in New York State (NYS). The researchers discovered that the number of patients who pursued STEMI PCIs dropped by approximately a quarter in NYS during the pandemic.    

STEMI is a severe heart attack that occurs when a major artery to the heart is blocked due to plaque build-up. PCI is a procedure that restores blood flow to the heart by opening up the blocked artery.    

The researchers gathered data from 7,047 patients who received care at 1 of 51 different hospitals in NYS. Those who received care for STEMI from January 1, 2019 to March 14, 2020 were considered patients during the pre-COVID period and those who received care for STEMI from March 15, 2020 to April 25, 2020 were considered patients during the COVID period.    

Of note, the decrease in STEMI PCIs during the pandemic was primarily limited to counties with a high concentration of COVID-19 cases and deaths. Hannan explained that “the decrease appears to be primarily related to patients not presenting to hospitals in high-density COVID regions, rather than PCI being avoided in STEMI patients or a reduction in the incidence of STEMI.”    

This information can serve to focus efforts on convincing STEMI patients to seek life-saving hospital care during the pandemic.