More than half of Hispanic adults would be afraid to go to a hospital for a possible heart attack or stroke because they might get infected with SARS-CoV-2, according to a new survey from the American Heart Association.
Compared with Hispanic respondents, 55% of whom said they feared COVID-19, significantly fewer Blacks (45%) and Whites (40%) would be scared to go to the hospital if they thought they were having a heart attack or stroke, the AHA said based on the survey of 2,050 adults, which was conducted May 29 to June 2, 2020, by the Harris Poll.
Hispanics also were significantly more likely to stay home if they thought they were experiencing a heart attack or stroke (41%), rather than risk getting infected at the hospital, than were Blacks (33%), who were significantly more likely than Whites (24%) to stay home, the AHA reported.
White respondents, on the other hand, were the most likely to believe (89%) that a hospital would give them the same quality of care provided to everyone else. Hispanics and Blacks had significantly lower rates, at 78% and 74%, respectively, the AHA noted.
These findings are “yet another challenge for Black and Hispanic communities, who are more likely to have underlying health conditions such as cardiovascular disease and diabetes and dying of COVID-19 at disproportionately high rates,” Rafael Ortiz, MD, American Heart Association volunteer medical expert and chief of neuro-endovascular surgery at Lenox Hill Hospital, New York, said in the AHA statement.
The survey was performed in conjunction with the AHA’s “Don’t Die of Doubt” campaign, which “reminds Americans, especially in Hispanic and Black communities, that the hospital remains the safest place to be if experiencing symptoms of a heart attack or a stroke.”
Among all the survey respondents, 57% said they would feel better if hospitals treated COVID-19 patients in a separate area. A number of other possible precautions ranked lower in helping them feel better:
- Screen all visitors, patients, and staff for COVID-19 symptoms when they enter the hospital: 39%.
- Require all patients, visitors, and staff to wear masks: 30%.
- Put increased cleaning protocols in place to disinfect multiple times per day: 23%.
- “Nothing would make me feel comfortable”: 6%.
Despite all the concerns about the risk of coronavirus infection, however, most Americans (77%) still believe that hospitals are the safest place to be in the event of a medical emergency, and 84% said that hospitals are prepared to safely treat emergencies that are not related to the pandemic, the AHA reported.
“Health care professionals know what to do even when things seem chaotic, and emergency departments have made plans behind the scenes to keep patients and healthcare workers safe even during a pandemic,” Dr. Ortiz pointed out.