The online version of this article (https://doi.org/10.1007/s12471-021-01545-y) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
To assess whether the COVID-19 lockdown in 2020 had negative indirect health effects, as people seem to have been reluctant to seek medical care.
All emergency medical services (EMS) transports for chest pain or out-of-hospital cardiac arrest (OHCA) in the Dutch region Hollands-Midden (population served > 800,000) were evaluated during the initial 6 weeks of the COVID-19 lockdown and during the same time period in 2019. The primary endpoint was the number of evaluated chest pain patients in both cohorts. In addition, the number of EMS evaluations of ST-elevation myocardial infarction (STEMI) and OHCA were assessed.
During the COVID-19 lockdown period, the EMS evaluated 927 chest pain patients (49% male, age 62 ± 17 years) compared with 1041 patients (51% male, 63 ± 17 years) in the same period in 2019, which corresponded with a significant relative risk (RR) reduction of 0.88 (95% confidence interval (CI) 0.81–0.96). Similarly, there was a significant reduction in the number of STEMI patients (RR 0.52, 95% CI 0.32–0.85), the incidence of OHCA remained unchanged (RR 1.23, 95% CI 0.83–1.83).
During the first COVID-19 lockdown, there was a significant reduction in the number of patients with chest pain or STEMI evaluated by the EMS, while the incidence of OHCA remained similar. Although the reason for the decrease in chest pain and STEMI consultations is not entirely clear, more attention should be paid to the importance of contacting the EMS in case of suspected cardiac symptoms in possible future lockdowns.