OTTAWA — New data suggests fewer people are seeking care for serious heart attacks amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Heart & Stroke and Canadian Cardiovascular Society analyzed data from Ontario cardiac centres and found an unusually low number of people turning up at hospital with the most serious type of heart attack, known as a STEMI.
They found a nearly 30 per cent drop in emergency department visits between March 16 to April 12 compared to the same period last year. Vancouver Coastal Health saw an approximate 40 per cent drop in STEMI patients during a similar time period.
Researchers say it’s unlikely the number of serious heart attacks has suddenly plummmeted. They worry heart patients are at risk of greater disability or death because they may be avoiding care for fear of being exposed to COVID-19.
Society president Dr. Andrew Krahn calls the findings “distressing” and urges anyone with signs of heart attack or stroke to seek immediate medical attention.
He says the healthcare system has protocols in place to protect patients and that it is prepared to respond to life-threatening medical issues during the pandemic.
“We need to remind people that emergencies such as heart attacks and stroke require immediate medical attention and the system is there for them,” Krahn said Thursday in a release.
“Ignoring the signs of a serious health crisis can have dire consequences including greater disability or death.”
Anne Simard, chief mission and research officer at Heart & Stroke, says anyone living with a chronic condition such as high blood pressure, heart disease or stroke with new or worsening symptoms should seek urgent medical treatment.
“We know everyone is concerned given the pandemic but if these other serious issues are not treated and managed, people can become critically ill or worse,” Simard added in the same release.
The signs of stroke can be remembered with the FAST acronym: Is the Face drooping? Can you raise both Arms? Is Speech slurred or jumbled? If so, it’s Time to call 911.
Signs of a heart attack include chest pressure, squeezing, fullness or pain; sweating; discomfort in the neck, jaw, shoulder, arms, or upper back; nausea; shortness of breath; and light-headedness.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published on April 30, 2020
By The Canadian Press
Long-term care company fires executive after comments made during meeting – Toronto Sun
VAUGHAN, Ont. — An executive at a Canadian long-term care company has been fired after the organization said she made inappropriate comments during a town hall with family members.
Sienna Senior Living is apologizing to families for the comments made by Joanne Dykeman, the company’s former executive vice-president.
The company held a Zoom meeting on Wednesday for the family members of residents at the Woodbridge Vista Community Care near Toronto, which is currently facing an outbreak of COVID-19.
The provincial government recently appointed the local health system to control the home, and last weekend 18 residents were sent to hospital.
Sienna Senior Living says it is working on a plan to better respond to the COVID-19 pandemic.
It says the plan includes improving communication with the family members of residents.
Small percentage of Ottawa residents infected with COVID-19: Ottawa Public Health – CTV News
Ottawa Public Health is reminding residents that COVID-19 is still circulating in our community, and everyone needs to do their part to help limit the spread of the virus.
Associate Medical Officer of Health Dr. Brent Moloughney says Ottawa Public Health estimates approximately one per cent of Ottawa residents have been infected with novel coronavirus.
“Through everyone’s actions, we’ve been successful in reducing the number of infections that would have otherwise occurred,” said Dr. Moloughney.
“Overall, we estimate that only a small percentage of Ottawans have been infected with COVID so far, perhaps as low as one per cent but perhaps a bit higher.”
As of Thursday, Ottawa Public Health reported 1,985 laboratory-confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Ottawa, including 248 deaths.
“Regardless of the specific number through, the key implication is that the vast majority of us remain susceptible to infection,” said Dr. Moloughney, noting the new cases reported daily show COVID-19 is still circulating in the community.
“In order to track cases within Ottawa and to limit transmission, please seek testing if you think you may be infected with the virus.”
The Ontario Government announced in May that asymptomatic residents of Ontario could present for COVID-19 testing. Ottawa Public Health says residents can visit the COVID-19 Assessment Centre at Brewer Arena and the two COVID-19 care clinics for testing.
Medical Officer of Health Dr. Vera Etches says the data from the expanded testing criteria has been “educational” as more people present for COVID-19 testing.
“What we’ve found was as the number of people tested grew, we didn’t find a lot more cases. That per cent positivity hasn’t grown,” said Dr. Etches.
“It’s telling us that population out there without symptoms, the general population, may not be where we’re going to find most of our cases.”
The medical officer of health says Ottawa Public Health and health officials in eastern Ontario will test all staff in long-term care homes twice in June. That would be 8,000 COVID-19 tests this month.
“Our goal is to use all of the testing capacity we have,” said Dr. Etches, adding Ottawa Public Health will look to “test in a smart way”, including workplaces and congregate care settings.
Limit your contacts
With warm weather in the forecast for the weekend, Ottawa Public Health is reminding people to practice physical distancing and limit interactions with people outside your household.
“As more activities become possible, the new normal will be to consider how risky an activity is and how you can reduce the risk of transmission for yourself, your family and others,” said Dr. Moloughney.
“In general, outdoor activities are less risky than indoor ones. The more people that are involved and the closer the contact, the higher the risk.”
Ottawa Public Health has issued a graphic looking at “least safe options” and “safer options” for activities during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Hydroxychloroquine 'useless' on COVID-19 patients, researcher says – CBC.ca
British scientists halted a major drug trial on Friday after it found that the anti-malarial hydroxychloroquine, touted by U.S. President Donald Trump as a potential “game changer” in the pandemic, was “useless” at treating COVID-19 patients.
“This is not a treatment for COVID-19. It doesn’t work,” Martin Landray, an Oxford University professor who is co-leading the RECOVERY trial, told reporters.
“This result should change medical practice worldwide. We can now stop using a drug that is useless.”
Vocal support from Trump raised expectations for the decades-old drug that experts said could have been a cheap and widely available tool, if proven to work, in fighting the pandemic, which has infected more than 6.4 million people and killed nearly 400,000 worldwide.
Controversy surrounding the drug grew after a study published in medical journal The Lancet last month raised safety concerns and led several COVID-19 studies of it to be halted. The Lancet study was then retracted on Thursday after its authors said they were unsure about its data.
Landray, a professor of medicine and epidemiology at Oxford University, noted the “huge speculation” about the drug as a treatment for COVID-19 but said there had been until now “an absence of reliable information from large randomized trials.”
He said the preliminary results from RECOVERY, which was a randomized trial, were now quite clear: hydroxychloroquine does not reduce the risk of death among hospitalized patients with COVID-19.
“If you’re admitted to hospital, don’t take hydroxychloroquine,” he said.
The results have not been published. A statement from Oxford said full details will be provided soon. No information on safety was given.
No difference in death rates
The RECOVERY trial of hydroxychloroquine had randomly assigned 1,542 COVID-19 patients to hydroxychloroquine and compared them with 3,132 COVID-19 patients randomly assigned to standard care without the drug.
Results showed no significant difference in death rates after 28 days, in length of stay in hospital or in other outcomes, the researchers said.
The Oxford study is the largest so far to put hydroxychloroquine to a strict test.
Earlier this week, a University of Minnesota randomized trial published in the New England Journal of Medicine found that the drug was ineffective in preventing infection in people exposed to the coronavirus.
Dozens of trials trying various permutations of use of the drug continue.
The World Health Organization (WHO) said on Friday the RECOVERY results would not change its plan to resume tests of hydroxychloroquine as part of its “Solidarity” trials. Canada is a participant in the Solidarity trial. WHO had briefly stopped giving the drug to new patients in light of the Lancet paper.
Parastou Donyai, director of pharmacy practice at the University of Reading in England, said the drug was “propelled onto the world stage by President Trump,” adding he had praised it without solid evidence.
“This news, although not positive, is a welcome relief to thousands of scientists, doctors and academics who have been crying out for proper proof of whether hydroxychloroquine works in COVID-19 or not.” she added, calling the conclusion that it does not “definitive.”
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