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Doctor says fear of COVID causing delay in treating heart failure patients

A cardiologist on Friday lamented the delay in treating heart failure patients amid the coronavirus pandemic.

"'Yun 'yung dilemma, 'yun po 'yung na-encounter nating problem. There's a delay in treating our patients with heart failure because of fear sa COVID," said Dr. Orly Bugarin, president of the Philippine Heart Association, during a virtual press briefing.

He said the current situation has made people wary of seeking help, even when they're experiencing symptoms — especially since heart failure and COVID-19 share similar warning signs.

"Lalo na ngayon, hindi nila malaman kung aling hospitals ang nag-a-admit, or hindi na nag-a-admit. Kasi talaga namang lahat ng hospitals ngayon, may mga patients na may [COVID] suspect," Bugarin said.

Heart failure is characterized by the inability of the heart to pump enough blood to supply the whole body.

In his presentation, Bugarin said that symptoms of heart failure include coughing and wheezing, shortness of breath, palpitations, and extreme tiredness or no energy.

Other symptoms may include swelling in the ankles, feet, or stomach, frequent urination especially at night, loss of appetite, and weight gain over a short period of time.

He said that despite the availability of several therapy treatments, mortality remains "unacceptably high."

Some 1.6 million Filipino patients suffer from heart failure, he added.

Bugarin urged Filipinos to consult a doctor as soon as they feel symptoms, assuring that hospitals now have a protocol to follow amid the COVID-19 pandemic. While online consultations are a good option, he said that it would be better to go to the emergency room so doctors can take the patient's history and conduct physical examinations.

"With patients na may heart failure, 'yung symptoms more or less, pareho po sila. Ang advice pa rin po natin to people with symptoms, wag natin hintayin mag-worsen," he said.

"The problem is kapag dinedelay natin, dumadating tayo doon sa point na we're at the worst stage bago tayo matingnan o makita ng doctor," he added. —JCB, GMA News